Rossport: The Time is Now

Saturday saw the start of a week of action in Rossport, County Mayo, as Shell attempt to push forward with the next stage in the Corrib gas development. In late July Shell commenced preparatory pipeline work and built a compound on Glengad beach, former home of the Rossport Solidarity Camp. There were heart breaking scenes as the company began their destruction of this once pristine bay. Tens of locals resisted, many were arrested and one hospitalized. This week, the world\x92s largest pipeline ship, the Solitaire, is expected to enter the bay to begin work on the offshore pipeline. Believed to be booked up for the next 2 years, the Solitaire has just 2 weeks to complete its part in the pipeline construction. On Saturday, a crew of boat activists, fresh from the Climate Camp\x92s Rebel Regatta, reclaimed Glengad beach. Occurring on the day the Solitaire was due to arrive in the area, this is the first in a series of actions aiming to stop pipeline work. The Rossport community have made a call out for people to come to the area to help them resist at this crucial time.

Newswire: Rossport: The Time is Now | Rossport update | Urgent Call Out: Mayo Needs You! Now Is The Time

Previous features: Rossport: Another Season of Resistance | Shell to Sea campaign intensifies as work on refinery begins | Community under siege in Mayo

Video: Locals resist Shell\x92s occupation of Glengad | Shell to Sea campaign video

Links: Shell to Sea | Rossport Solidarity camp | Indymedia ireland Mayo page | Indymedia UK Rossport Solidarity page

As has come to be expected, the latest work has been facilitated through intimidation, violence and political corruption. At the end of last month, a joint team of 40 Gardai and 70 Shell specialist security moved onto Glengad beach to enable the construction of a causeway and the erection of 10ft high steel fencing half a mile long, cordoning off the area. No notice was given and Shell fails to mention its occupation of the public beach in its publicity material. Working together, the Gardai and security forcibly removed around 30 local people who attempted to stop work. Another day, 13 people were arrested for trespass on the beach, one of whom was seriously injured and hospitalized for over a week after being injured in Garda custody. While the beach was ravaged by Shell\x92s activity, local people also witnessed pods of dolphins forced out of the bay by Shell speed boats.

Initially it appeared that the work was illegal as consents for pipeline work at Glengad had not been granted. It later emerged that the authorizations had been given, but the government had failed to publicize them. Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan claimed that the failure to publicize the consents had been an \x93oversight\x94. \x93Oversights\x94 such as this characterize the politics of the project and are exactly what the Green party minister was so critical of in opposition.

This key section of the pipeline was granted permission outside of the usual planning process. Eamon Ryan used the Gas Act to exempt what is arguably the most dangerous part of the whole project. The 200 metre exempted section will be subject to the pipeline\x92s highest pressures (potentially up to 345 bar, the highest pipeline pressure in a residential area anywhere in the world) and runs from the landfall at Glengad under Dooncarton mountain. The original landfall permission was awarded in 2002 before the devastating 2003 landslide that saw 200,000 cubic meters of debris washed off Dooncarton, destroying houses, bridges and roads. In spite of the obvious dangers, no review of the permission has taken place since this time.

Pipeline work is ongoing despite the fact that planning permission for the remainder of the modified onshore pipeline route has not yet been granted. The proposed onshore route runs 9km through protected blanket bog habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Specially Protected Areas (protected habitats under the EU habitats directive), commonage and farmland.

Since the occupation of Glengad beach by Shell in late July, the company\x92s bright yellow security army are a constant source of intimidation in the Broadhaven Bay area. The unidentified security (often wearing balaclavas), use video cameras and binoculars to monitor anyone on, or near, the public beach, including children. The company hired by Shell is headed by a former member of the elite Irish Rangers Unit and while the company claim that current members of the defense force are not part of the operation, it is known that other former military personal have been hired.

Meanwhile, Shell has used its usual tactics of divide and rule and bribery to silence resistance from local fishers to the project, overcoming what the company views as one of the final hurdles preventing the Solitaire beginning work in the bay. The local fishers universally expressed concerns over the location of the discharge pipe and its outfall diffuser (certain to pollute both Broadhaven Bay and inshore waters) and disruption to their work during the laying of the offshore pipeline. However, last week, after long negotiations, a significant number of fishers have agreed to keep quiet in return for compensation. Others however, remain resolute in their opposition. Fisherman Pat O Donnell stated, \x93I believe the health of the marine environment for future generations is more important than short term compensation\x94 He says that himself and the other fishers who refused to accept Shell\x92s bribe will continue to fish in the path of the Solitaire.

And its not just the locals who are refusing to bow to the might of Shell, the ocean is also fighting back. Dredging operations for the offshore pipeline have seen several boats in difficulties, marooned on rocks in the choppy waters of Broadhaven Bay and in need of emergency repairs. So, with a call out for action, dissident fishermen and turbulent waters there is reason to believe the Solitaire won\x92t be in for an easy ride\x85

Now is the time to come to Mayo to support the campaign. Check out the Rossport Solidarity Camp website for travel and accommodation info.

Topic revision: r1 - 20 Aug 2008, RichH
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