"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
In a new twist to the decade long struggle against Shell Rossport Solidarity Camp has revealed that Mayo County Council (MCC) has issued an eviction notice to the landowner of the field where the Rossport Solidarity Camp is located. Mayo farmer Gerry Burke has been threatened with fines of over €12,000 and two years in prison. Despite these theats the annual June Bank Holiday solidarity gathering will go ahead in a couple of weeks.
The camp is taken down each Autumn and re-erected each year in the early summer, this year that was three weeks ago. The Rossport Solidarity Camp is an environmental camp which leaves aslight an ecological footprint as possible, creating their own electricity with wind turbines and solar panels, composting and using grey-water systems to filter and clean up waste water from washing up etc. People come to the camp to see these systems in operation and attend workshops on how to construct similar systems elsewhere.
Meanwhile across the road from the camp Shell are tearing holes in a Special Area of Conservation and tearing out 125,000 tons of peat as part of their continued attempt to impose an experimental high pressure raw gas pipe and refinery on the community. As the farmer whose land the camp is on Gerry Burke pointed out "The council turns a blind eye when Shell puts up fencing and huts in Glengad without planning permission, but is willing to imprison people for a few tents in a field. The council is targeting those of us who are legitimately protesting against the Corrib Gas project- this isn't about planning law, it's about money."
Speaking for the camp Con Coughlan revealed that 'The council has recently been accused of corruption by one of their own counselors. But it doesn't take an insider to see the corruption. Mayo County Council has recently received a payment of €8.5 million from Shell, so of course they will bend over backwards for their paymasters."
In March the local community submitted 104 letters of complaint to Mayo County Council, with 112 signatures. The complaint reads: "When dealing with MCC many people experience an attitude of arrogance towards and dismissing of people who are directly affected and critical of the Corrib Gas Project. Phone calls are not being returned and inquiries are not properly addressed and dealt with."
The deadline for removal of the campsite given was 17th May, less then a week after the letter was received. According to the letter, MCC may come at anytime now and physically enforce the eviction notice. We understand that the camp have on intention of allowing themselves to be intimidated into ending their long running solidarity work with the community.
The camp has renewed its appeal for people to come and visit the camp. In particular people are encouraged to come to the annual June Bank Holiday gathering during which dozens of campaigners from around the country will travel to Rossport including many who have not been to the area before. The local Shell to Sea groups in Dublin and Cork are organising buses to travel from those cities. The weekend is an excellent introduction to the struggle against Shell and a chance to meet many of the people involved.