For 10 years there has been a struggle against the Corrib gas project in Western Ireland. For the last five years many campaigners have made the journey to show their support with the local people as they show the international oil company that they cannot have their own way. This year a critical stage is being reached and Rossport Solidarity Camp is gearing up to play its role in the continuing resistance. Read on for a history of the campaign and for information if you are planning to come across.
Yet another independent festival has been cancelled after a concerted campaign by bureaucrats, nimbys and the fun police.
The Grassroots Feastival is a small volunteer run event due to take place in Cambridgeshire in early September. Organisers had lined up three days of revelry, running from poetry to Drum 'n' Bass and culminating in a communal banquet replete with juggling waiters.
The Feastival faced determined opposition from the very start. According to one of the organisers, Mooney, when the application process began in January the council made it clear they would do all they could to stop the festival taking place. Martin Ford from the police licensing board went one step further and told organisers, “I'd rather put pins in my eyes than have this festival in my county.”
On Friday the 20th September, the pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, finally left Irish waters. During the ship's time in Ireland, Shell failed to lay any part of the offshore pipe line. The departure of the Solitaire is a massive victory for the Shell to Sea campaign. Resistance in the past six weeks has taken many different forms: fishermen preventing the ship's access to the bay by refusing to move from her path, site invasions by local people and the Rossport Solidarity Camp, numerous waterborne actions to prevent work by supporters from other parts of Ireland and further afield, national and international solidarity actions and finally, an 11 day hunger strike by local campaigner Maura Harrington, that continued until the ship left Irish waters. The events of the last 6 weeks have inspired not only those involved, but also many who witnessed them from afar, new links and friendships have been forged and many lessons learned. In the aftermath, the Shell to Sea campaign can clearly be seen to have been revitalized, both locally and nationally. It is unclear when the ship will attempt to return to Broadhaven Bay. It is possible it could still be this year if repairs are quick and a suitable weather window appears, or it may not be until next spring. However, while it may be uncertain exactly when the ship will return, what is certain, is that it will meet even greater opposition upon its next arrival. Come and be part of it! The Rossport community is calling on people everywhere to put pressure on Shell, Allseas (the company that owns the Solitaire) and Irish embassies to demand that the Solitaire leaves Irish waters immediately.
Newswire: rossport solidarity action at irish consulate | The Solitaire leaves the Bayr | Rooftop occupation of Shells offices in Belmullet | Update from 11th of September | Daughter of Shell to Sea hunger striker paddles out to Solitaire | Rossport Solidarity Action in London | Rossport Solidarity Demo in London on Monday!! | Son of Shell to Sea hunger striker assaulted and arrested |Support Maura Harrington on hunger strike | Irish Embassy targetted for Rossport in Berlin | Rossport: Solidarity Action in Brighton | Rossport: The Time is Now | Rossport update | Urgent Call Out: Mayo Needs You! Now Is The Time
The week ending 31st August saw Rossport Solidarity camp reborn and the week of action against offshore pipeline work extended.
The week of action was called in anticipation of the arrival of the world’s largest pipeline ship, the Solitaire. However, due to bad weather conditions the ship’s arrival was delayed. Nonetheless, actions took place throughout the week against preparatory pipeline work, including disruption of dredging work designed to create the trench for the pipe, site invasions into Shell’s compound, and a visit by Shell to Sea kayakers to the Solitaire.
Friday the 29th of August saw better weather conditions and the arrival of the winching rig and cable and the return of the dredging machine into the bay.
The Navy also arrived (the first time the Navy has ever been used in an operation against a civil demonstration).
If the good weather holds, Shell will attempt to complete the near shore part of the pipeline in the next few days.
Believed to be booked up for the next 2 years, the Solitaire has a very short time frame to complete its part in the pipeline construction. Resistance now is crucial and the Rossport community have made a call out for people to come to the area to support the campaign. Check out feature additions and comments for regular updates.
The rest of the article outlines some of the recent history of the campaign...
Since 2000 the small rural community of Rossport, County Mayo, Ireland have been engaged in an epic battle trying to prevent Shell from building a potentially devastating onshore gas refinery and high pressure pipeline in their remote and environmentally sensitive region. Despite Shell’s status as one of the world’s largest multinationals and it’s enjoyment of the full support of the Irish state, the spirited and effective resistance of the local community means that four years after the refinery was intended to be fully operational, the project is still in its infancy.
For many different reasons the struggle is truly inspiring. The Shell to Sea campaign is fought on a multitude of levels, from the international political arena, to on the ground at the daily picket at the proposed refinery site. It has been an eventful seven years and this autumn has been no exception. Over the past few months direct action against the development has included national days of action attended by hundreds of people from around Ireland, community led direct action preventing preparatory pipeline work and regular blockading of trucks entering the refinery site by those attending the daily picket. Also during this period, campaigners were ordered to leave the two year old Rossport Solidarity Camp. Meanwhile the project has met renewed opposition from NGO’s, including the Irish National Trust, who recently spoke out publicly against the project and outlined their intention to challenge its legitimacy in the European courts.
And of course, where there is resistance, repression follows shortly after. The local court sessions have become increasingly dominated by Shell to Sea cases and protesters have been subject to dubious convictions and excessively harsh sentences, including one woman being sentenced to three months in prison for her part in a peaceful lock-on blockade. As winter sets in resistance continues. The rest of the article outlines the significant events of the last few months in more detail…
This summer has seen the Shell to Sea campaign gain increasing momentum as construction of the proposed onshore gas refinery in County Mayo, Ireland, begins. The planned refinery and the high pressure pipeline, which would supply it with unprocessed gas from the offshore Corrib gas field, have been bitterly opposed by local residents and their many national and international supporters, since it was first proposed in 2000. Shell and their partners Statoil and Marathon had hoped to have the facility in operation by 2003, but massive local resistance has meant that four years on, the development is still in its infancy.
Resistance was stepped up following the jailing of three local fishermen accused of assaulting Gardai (Police) during a Shell to Sea picket last year. On Wednesday 11th July, two years on from the jailing of the Rossport 5, these men became County Mayo’s latest political prisoners. The judge’s verdict was met with disbelief by all involved in the campaign and has resulted in an upsurge of community resistance.
Since late 2000 there has been an on-going attempt by multinationals and the Irish state to devastate a remote coastal area of county Mayo with a toxic refinery and a high pressure production gas pipeline. Since the summer of 2005 mass pickets shut down the refinery construction site after five residents were imprisoned for refusing to allow Shell’s sub-contractors access to their and their neighbours' small farms which the pipeline is to go through.
In August Shell announced that they intended to re-take the site in September, however during that month over a hundred people would gather at the gates when ever there was indications that such an attempt was to be made. Shell failed in September, but on the third of October a massive two hundred strong police unit forced a path for Shell. This week there have been sporadic sit down blockades of construction traffic and solidarity protests have taken place in locations across Britain and Ireland.
Reports from Mayo: Interview with Rossport Solidarity Camper | Rossport - Shell to Sea Video Report | S2S Oct 12 - 3 arrested in Mayo, Dempsey cornered in Galway | Bellanaboy, Community Under Siege - Day 11
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