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Freedom for Pat O’Donnell



éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has called on people to come out in support of the Dublin Shell to Sea protest at Shell HQ on Friday [May 21].

The protest, which will commence at 5pm, has been called to mark Erris fisherman and prominent Shell to Sea activist Pat O’Donnell’s 100th day in prison.

Leeson said: “The imprisonment of Pat O’Donnell at the behest of Shell is a travesty of justice and a clear demonstration of the corrupt nature of the Twenty-Six County state. The rights of citizens are being subordinated to the interests of the profits of multinational corporations.

“Pat O’Donnell’s only ‘crime’ was to stand up for the rights of his community and to demand they be allowed to live in peace and safety. The imposition of Shell’s experimental high pressure gas pipeline project in Erris has been bravely resisted by that community for over a decade. For refusing to bend the knee to private profit, they have been vilified, criminalised, beaten off the streets and many activists, including Pat, have been imprisoned on trumped up charges.

“People like Pat have been an inspiration to all of us who strive for a society that puts the rights of its people before private profit.”

Leeson continued: “In a week when protestors against NAMA and the bank bailout, including éirígí activists, have faced the full brunt of state brutality, it is important that support and solidarity is demonstrated to those who have faced similar treatment from the forces of the state.

“The Shell to Sea campaign and the events of recent weeks have highlighted the fact that the state will attempt to stamp out all resistance to its defence of private profit. The Gardaí, despite the weasel words of their senior representatives at the recent GRA conference, have made it clear time and again that they are simply a force that will, at all times, defend private interests. History however, has demonstrated that the will of a risen people is not easily extinguished. The people of Erris and the Shell to Sea campaign have shown that determined and organised resistance can halt the onward march of private capital.”

Contrasting the treatment of campaigners like O’Donnell and Fianna Fáil’s banker and developer friends, Leeson said: “Over the last 12 months, despite ample evidence of endemic corruption; not one banker, developer or speculator has faced the courts. Indeed, many of these people have been rewarded for their corruption and avarice. This is not all that surprising given that Fianna Fáil, has, for decades, been bankrolled by developers, speculators and bankers.

While former Anglo Irish Bank boss Seán Fitzpatrick is free to jet around the world on sunshine holidays and former boss of National Irish Bank Michael Fingleton is given a €1 million pension pay off, honourable men like Pat O’Donnell languish in prison cells. Meanwhile, the giveaway of Irish natural resources to multinational oil corporations continues at the same time as the state is implementing savage cuts in public services: cuts that are driving down the living standards of workers and creating real hardship in working class communities across the state.

Leeson concluded: “It is becoming increasingly clear that, unless people get out on the streets and stay on the streets, this state will continue to trample on the rights of citizens. Pat O’Donnell is one of the people who have refused to bend the knee, justice needs to be served and he should be released from prison immediately. éirígí is calling on people to show their support for him on Friday.”

The Dublin Shell to Sea protest takes place on Friday, May 21 at 5pm at the Shell HQ on Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. For further information, check