Police have clashed heavily with local campaigners fighting Shell’s plans to lay a pipeline in County Mayo in Ireland. The community had managed to block construction of the project for more than a year. But earlier this week about 170 police were deployed at dawn at the proposed pipeline terminal to remove the protesters who have maintained a round-the-clock vigil at the site for weeks.
Some hundred 80 protesters were removed with some being injured. One of the protestors Irish MP, Jerry Cowley treated one woman’s injuries. “She was lifted up by her chin and pushed back. She had a lot of abrasions on her neck. … She could hardly breathe,” said Cowley.
Shell’s proposed pipeline would deliver natural gas from the Corrib field, which was discovered in 1996 about 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the Mayo coast and has estimated reserves valued at €850 million (US$1.1 billion). Shell had hoped to launch production in 2007, but oil analysts say it probably won’t happen until the end of 2008.
For two years, campaigners have demanded that Shell reroute the pipeline away from a rural hamlet called Rossport and build the processing facility offshore. This culminated last year with the five men “the Rossport five” spending 94 days in jail for refusing to observe a court order.
Here is a recount of what happened from Irish Indy Media:
“On the morning of Tuesday 3rd October, at the gates of the proposed refinery site for the Corrib Gas project in Bellanaboy, Rossport, Co. Mayo, a force of about 170 Gardai forcibly removed 100 local people and supporters from further afield who were peacefully blockading the entrance in order to prevent the resumption of work on this corrupt, controversial and unwelcome refinery”.
“People were dragged away by Gardai from where they were sitting, which caused three local people to be injured – Mary Horan suffered severe bruising on her forearm, Philip Mc Grath (incidentally he was one of the five men jailed last year ) had his thumb dislocated, and Mary Coyle, a local woman in her early 20s had to be hospitalised suffering from shock and possible near-asphyxiation resulting from Garda rough treatment. Gardai also sealed off the area around the refinery, preventing citizens from exercising their right to protest against (and prevent!) Shell’s Great Gas Robbery and their intended despoilation of north-west Mayo”.
“The use of An Garda Siochana as Shell’s and Roadbridge’s hired muscle to get their own way indicates that the State is far from an innocent bystander or neutral party in this dispute. The government is using its law-enforcement arm to support a multinational oil and gas company and its Irish big business main contractor against Irish citizens whose motivation is to protect their homes, families, communities and local environment from the undoubted risks and dangers this unprecedented project poses to them”.
“The State went so far in their support of Shell and Roadbridge as to draft in Gardai from as far away as Cork city, which is why the protest tomorrow is Called for Anglesea St. Garda station”.
“We call on members of An Garda Siochana to reflect on what their bosses are ordering them to do in the name of public order, and to remind them that in carrying out this operation they are opposing the wishes of a majority of Irish people, the will of the communities in Erris, and their own long-term interests – if this project is successful Ireland will receive no benefit from the gas and oil riches that lie offshore but will have to contend with all the pollution that will ensue from its extraction and processing”.
“We need only to say that Shell’s record of corruption, violence and ecological delinquency precedes them – one merely has to to look at their record in Nigeria, South Africa, the United States, Brazil and many other countries. By sending in the police to enforce the resumption of work on the refinery site, the Irish Government and the State have taken the side of money against the people who put them there in the first place and whose bidding they were supposed to serve. What we have seen is the behaviour of a government and a police force of occupation – like the occupation regime of Iraq, the Irish governments of recent times have given away the riches of the land to foreign invaders wearing suits”.