Maura Harrington has suffered a lot over the last few years.
Both she and family members have been assaulted on a number of occasions, she has been detained and imprisoned and, last year, endured a hunger strike.
To add insult to the injuries, the above offences have all been committed by a state that claims to uphold the retired schoolteacher’s rights and liberties.
On Saturday [May 16], Maura attended éirígí’s Ard-Fheis as a guest speaker and gave an inspirational oration about the struggle for Ireland’s natural resources in the Corrib gas field.
Shortly afterwards, the 55-year-old took an impromptu opportunity to challenge and embarrass Twenty-Six County minister for the environment John Gormley on the streets of Dublin.
This is the nature of the woman. Indefatigable and ever ready to highlight the greed-fuelled activities of Shell Oil and the Twenty-Six County state in her community.
Yesterday [Monday], Maura once again paid the price for that commitment.
Appearing at Belmullet Court, she was arrested for the non-payment of a fine she received for involvement in a peaceful protest and transported back to Dublin’s Mountjoy jail.
Word quickly reached the capital of Maura’s impending arrival and a crowd of éirígí and Shell to Sea activists made their way to the jail, where they blockaded the entrance.
The Garda car carrying Maura was stopped in its tracks by the blockade, and was only able to progress after 25 Gardaí intervened to forcibly ensure the Mayo woman was delivered into custody.
It is envisaged that Maura will spend 14 days in Mountjoy.
éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson called for Harrington’s immediate release and said acts of civil disobedience would continue in the time ahead.
“On Saturday, éirígí had the privilege of welcoming Maura to our Ard-Fheis as a guest speaker,” he said.
“At that gathering, she gave an inspiring account of the people of west Mayo’s struggle against Shell Oil. It is disgraceful that she now finds herself back in the custody of the Twenty-Six County authorities.
“Maura should not be persecuted for standing up for the rights of her family and her community, and for making the simple observation that the natural resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland.
“Faced with the contempt and hostility of Twenty-Six County politicians and their police force, those who care about civil rights and the ownership of our natural resources are fully entitled to employ civil disobedience and peaceful direct action to highlight an intolerable situation.”
Brian continued: “The return of Maura to prison is part of a wider pattern of repression against the Shell to Sea campaign and the community in the Rossport area. This repression has included the sinister assault on Willie Corduff by a number of masked men, believed to be Shell security guards.
“At a time when the Twenty-Six County establishment should be investing its time in dragging this state out of an economic crisis, it is instead doing all in its power to facilitate the demands of multinationals like Shell Oil.
“Through actions like yesterday’s, the establishment in this state has proven itself to be morally and politically bankrupt. Maura Harrington has 100 times more concern for the interests of Irish citizens than the politicians who are prepared to stand over her imprisonment. She should be released immediately.”
Brian concluded: “In the long term, the only viable solution to the situation in Mayo is the nationalisation of the natural gas and the development of the project in line with the safety concerns of the local community.”
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“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!”
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