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Erris News - April 2010


Solidarity with fisherman Pat O’Donnell

"The Irish political establishment stands condemned by the whole Corrib gas saga. The anti-social criminals known as speculators and big bankers whose lust for super profits crashed the Irish economy with disastrous consequences for ordinary people and for society in general. Not one of them has been before a criminal court. But a local fisherman has the whole force of the State mobilised against him to achieve a manufactured conviction and a jail sentence because he stands for community benefit over private greed."
Joe Higgins MEP

Pat O'Donnell has now been in jail for over two months – two months too long. His jailing is an indictment of just how subservient the State is to Shell's every need and desire.

But the local community and supporters from all over the country, and beyond, have rallied to Pat. A large number of solidarity events have taken place, rallies at Castlerea prison, where Pat is being held, protests at the Dáil and the GPO in Dublin, demonstrations at Bellanaboy refinery site and Shell's offices in Belmullet, as well as a convoy of over 100 cars from Pat's home village of Porturlin to Ballyglass Pier. There have also been shows of support from the UK, with events in London,Bristol and Nottingham 

In the words of one of the huge number of supportive e-mails for Pat -
“Please do not give up hope nor resolve, for even though you carry a heavy burden, that of the soul of our nation, it has always been the few that have made the greatest impression on history! Nowhere more than for our land, our island is this true, for while the people sleep and pay no heed to the injustices been suffered in their midst, one day they will wake up and claim their birthright and it will be because of men such as you!”

We are strong and united behind you Pat – Free the Chief!


Community responds with 409 refusals to Shell's sham consultation

— Corrib project has been imposed through 'harassment' of the local community —

409 letters have been delivered from members of the community of Kilcommon to Shell's Belmullet offices today Monday,12thApril. The letter outlines their refusal to meet with representatives of the company while Pat O'Donnell remains in jail and the imposition of the Corrib gas project continues without community consent. The letters detail a large number of grievances that the local community have with the imposition of the project, and state that people are refusing to meet with Shell while what “effectively amounts to ongoing and escalating physical and psychological harassment” continues in the area.

The letters dismiss as hollow Shell's proposed 'consultation', in the context of the fact that the current and previous Managing Directors of the company have publicly stated that the project will not be changed in any way in response to community concerns.

Community spokesperson Éamonn Ó Murchú stated that: “As Shell are well aware, there is a lack of trust in them in the wider Kilcommon community caused by Shell’s acknowledged mistakes in its treatment of the community when trying to push through its plans to construct an experimental raw gas pipeline and inland refinery in Erris.”

“Pat O’Donnell is currently incarcerated in Castlerea prison, serving a seven month sentence. We are deeply angered and upset by his jailing, and this supposed 'consultation' is cold comfort to his family and friends at this time.” He further added: “Following a public meeting in Inver on Friday 19th March 2010 it was decided it is not appropriate to meet with Shell or RPS staff for the duration that Mr. O’Donnell is in prison. Furthermore, we will not be meeting Shell or RPS staff while the harassment of the community continues. We will not be holding individual or small group meetings.”

“Both the current and previous Managing Directors of Shell E&P Ireland Ltd have stated on record that no changes will be made to the Corrib project in response to community concerns” - from the letter to Shell

“This is consultation understood only as a conversation where they speak and we, the affected community, listen. This is not dialogue. Instead of dialogue we have been met by force and imposition, which has taken a dreadful toll on our community.”  Pobal Chill Chomáin


Court  Reports

Recent court cases taken against seven local residents - which were eventually dropped by the Gardai at the last moment without explanation - centred on the issue of netting at Glengad. Shell E&P Ireland Ltd has repeatedly erected this netting over large portions of the cliff-face associated with, and adjacent to, the proposed Corrib gas pipeline landfall site.  This area is an important area for coastal birds, such as the protected species of Brent Goose and Sandmartin, and forms part of Sruwaddacon Bay Special Protection Area (SPA), Glenamoy Bog Complex (SAC) and Broadhaven/Blacksod Bay marine SAC, which are all designated protected areas under EU environmental law.
The contention of local residents is that this netting - and all associated pipeline works - breaches the Wildlife Act, EU Habitats directive and Birds directive, and constitutes an environmental crime committed whilst proceeding with an illegal development.  A representative of the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) had been summoned by the defence to give evidence on these matters at the special sitting of Belmullet District Court, and it is widely believed that this was the main cause for the cases being dropped, as the Gardai continue to provide further protection to Shell's illegal actions in Glengad and beyond.    J.M


Local residents Brendan Philbin and Brid Mc Garry have been granted permission by the High Court to pursue their claims about Ministerial Consents issued by Minister Frank Fahey in 2002.The residents brought an action alleging that the Ministerial Consents of 2002 for the unprecedented upstream raw gas pipeline complex were unlawful. The State and Shell wanted the Court to strike out proceedings as they argued that there was the issue of a time limit involved. The residents wanted to seek declarations that Shell had no interest in the lands acquired under Compulsory Acquisition Orders (CAO's) issued in 2002. The residents also wanted declarations that the Minister had acted in breach of the principles of natural and constitutional justice, and in breach of European law by giving consent to these CAO's. In a long running action dating back to 2005, Justice Mary Laffoy ruled on the 04th March 2010 that both residents were entitled to proceed with their case to be determined by the Court. Speaking to Mid West News after the ruling, Brid Mc Garry said that they both had been vindicated and that the hard work had paid off. Their Solicitor acting in the case is Eddie Mc Garr, along with Lord Daniel Brennan (Q.C.). This result represents a further vindication for the Shell to Sea campaign after An Bord Pleanala ruled that the revised pipeline route was unsafe and posed an unacceptable risk to residents and the community from a health and safety perspective last November. The High Court decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court.    B.McGarry  


The deterioration of the remaining  Sandmartin nests (after the Corrib developers ripped out nests from the cliff in 2002) has continued. The onset of collapse in this area had been reported to NPWS in April 2009 but no action was taken. The destruction of the cliff and beach at Glengad went into full swing last summer, and the area has now suffered extensive damage as a result, with the beach littered with  debris of Shell's pipeline works. There has been no response from NPWS to date.


National Spring Clean

Now in its 12th year, National Spring Clean is Ireland’s biggest anti-litter campaign and encourages people to take pride in their local environment and take action against litter.  The campaign runs throughout the month of April.  You can register for a clean up kit by contacting An Taisce on 01 400 2219 or e-mail or register online at  Remember it’s our litter and our responsibility and if everyone makes an effort it can make a huge difference.

Erris Farmers Market in Belmullet will be re-opening in May.   The market offers a variety of fresh, seasonal produce from the Erris area including vegetables, free range hen and duck eggs, home baking, fish, herbs & small plants, seaweed products and prepared dishes.   Keep an eye on local newsletters and newspapers for further details. Producers who would like to set up or share a stall can contact Mary on: 097 82303

Reflexology: to detox and spring clean your system, to replenish and  improve your energy levels.
Contact Damhnait in Rossport: 085 1340042

Seai, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland are inviting to a consultation meeting about the Belmullet Wave Energy Test Site. The meeting will be held in Belmullet Civic Offices on 28th April from 2pm to 9pm. For more information contact James Ryan: 097 20735 or e-mail

Duncan Stewart’s Eco Eye featured ocean energy in its latest programme:

Merthyr to Mayo Bike ride
The Merthyr to Mayo bike ride will take place during May to link and support the two communities in their campaign for the protection of their local environment.  After making their way from Wales via Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway, the bike ride will arrive to a big welcome in Mayo for the June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Solidarity Events for Pat

Leafletting on the Square in  Belmullet -  16th April, 11-1.30pm
Solidarity Demonstration at Shell’s offices in Belmullet - 22nd April 4-6pm





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