Shell E&P Ireland attempted to move by force into the site in Glengad, County Mayo early on Wednesday (April 22). They had abandoned their work last autumn after local protests and the legality of their work came under question.
Despite this, Shell are attempting to return and secure the site in Glengad, where they want to start to lay their disputed pipeline. They arrived on Wednesday with large numbers of security men, Gardaí and fencing in an effort to intimidate and bully the local community and the national campaign into acceptance of the unacceptable.
Protestors from the locality and across Ireland again resisted Shell, with a number climbing onto and under trucks and others blocking the entrance to the site. This legitimate protest was met with predictable force, violence and intimidation by the Gardaí and the private security forces employed by Shell. Late on Wednesday night, protestors peacefully removed the fencing that Shell contractors had unlawfully put up earlier in the day.
Events took a sinister turn in the early hours of this morning when Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport 5 and winner of the International Goldman Environmental Prize 2007, was pulled from a truck which he was legitimately occupying in protest. He was viciously beaten by six private security men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas. Other protestors, who had kept vigil overnight, had gone to get food and the one remaining who attempted to protect Willie Corduff was also assaulted. The Gardaí on patrol in the area refused to assist the protestors and were reluctant to call an ambulance or let the ambulance access to the beach where Willie lay badly injured. He was rushed to Castlebar Hospital, where his condition is being monitored.
“I thought they were trying to kill me. They beat me until I stopped moving. I heard one of them say, ‘Stop now lads, he's nearly finished.’” – Willie Corduff
Allegations by Shell and their accomplices that protestors entered the Glengad site on Wednesday night carrying iron bars and chains, and attempted to attack Shell/I-RMS security are false, with no evidence being offered by Shell et al to back up the claims.
These shameful acts of aggression and violence by Shell, and the Twenty-Six County government, against the Rossport community and protestors are no surprise as the gas and oil in Corrib has been estimated to be worth €80 billion. Greed is the corner stone of colonialism and capitalism in Ireland. Greed and the corrupt nature of successive Twenty-Six County governments has allowed the abuse of this community, the attempted robbery of Irish natural resources and the aggressive silencing of protest.
éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “It is clear from the images of Wednesday’s events that the Gardaí have given Shell Oil’s private security guards a free hand to deal with local objectors any way they see fit to.
“Essentially, the Twenty-Six County state has abdicated its responsibility towards the citizens of this part of Mayo and is allowing Shell to operate a private fiefdom in order to complete its refinery.
“As a result, innocent people are being arrested, dragged in front of courts and put in prison, or being assaulted and hospitalised.
“This situation cannot be allowed to continue. All work on Shell’s refinery should be halted without delay.”
Brian continued: “In the long term, the only viable solution to the Corrib gas dispute is for the nationalisation of the natural resources off the Mayo coast.
“Nationalisation would ensure that the legitimate concerns of local people could be dealt with and the gas be could be exploited for the benefit of the people of Ireland.
“At a time when hospital beds are being closed and schools are being left in a dilapidated condition, the Dublin government is fast running out of excuses for its slavish attitude towards big business.”
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