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19 Hour Overnight Occupation of Shell Drill Rig Ends With Force

RSC - Indymedia

In the afternoon on the 22nd September, three protesters climbed the legs of a drilling rig to disrupt Shell's work in the SAC Sruwaddacon Bay estuary


A 19 hour peaceful occupation of one of Shell's drilling platforms in Sruwaddacon Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was brought to an end this morning when Gardaí pulled campaigners down from their perches on the legs of the platform using considerable force and at a great safety risk.

The protest commenced on Wednesday at 12:30pm when three Shell to Sea campaigners boarded one of Shell's drilling platforms in the estuary along the proposed route for the Corrib gas pipeline. The planning application for this tunnel route under the estuary is currently under examination in an An Bord Pleanála oral hearing that has been ongoing since 24th August, closing submissions for which will be made this week. This occupation is the second time in three days that campaigners have halted Shell from continuing their investigative drilling in the SAC. Monday also saw a successful 12 hour occupation of a drill on Shell's platform.1 On Wednesday the protesters climbed up the legs of the platform to prevent it from moving to a new position in the estuary.

The protesters were ready to stay for awhile with plenty of food, water, and even a hammock. All three stayed in their positions from midday Wednesday through the night despite the rain, with a support team camping out onshore to keep an eye on them. At about 7am, just as it started to get light, one of the protesters came down voluntarily, but the other two remained in their positions. The Garda water unit issued section 8 warnings to the remaining two protesters and when that didn't persuade them down the Gardaí boarded the drill rig and climbed down from the top of the platform to where the protesters were situated. One protester had tied himself to the leg with rope, and a Garda climbed out to him with a commando knife and no harness or support gear to hold himself up. He slashed through the ropes, pulled at the person and elbowed him in the head.

After watching from the shore, Brian Loftus a member of the Rossport Solidarity Camp stated “Luckily no one was seriously hurt this morning, but it could have been much worse. After the protesters were removed from the legs, the Garda with the knife fell off the platform and into the water. It is unbelievable that the Garda water unit would be that reckless with their own safety and ours.”

Both campaigners who were forcibly removed were brought to Belmullet Garda station but were released without charges.

Photos are from the initial platform occupation. Some video of the occupation removal by the Gardaí will follow shortly.

Climbing up the rig initally
Climbing up the rig initally




How could one Garda remove this protestor safely against his will?
How could one Garda remove this protestor safely against his will?