"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.”
ANOTHER lock-on protest on the roadside in north Mayo, near the site of Shell works for the controversial Corrib gas project, meant that operations were impeded until lunchtime yesterday (Monday).
The two protestors were arrested and charged at Belmullet Garda Station with Public Order Offences.
A spokesman for the Rossport Solidarity Camp confirmed that the two protestors were locked by their arms into a concrete barrel, on the north coast road, from shortly before 7am yesterday morning. This blockade is part of an intensive series of on-road actions, taken by the camp and Shell to Sea, since Shell started works at the Aughoose site for the 4.9km sub-sea tunnel during late July.
A large team of IRMS security guards has been policing the site on behalf of Shell.
A camp spokesman confirmed to The Mayo News that a Garda Síochána cutting team arrived around 9am yesterday morning and was supported by over 20 other gardaí. The protestors were cut from the barrel by 1pm.
He said, the action was also taken to highlight Shell’s recent oil spill at the Gannet Alpha platform, in the North Sea.
“ These serious and surprisingly common incidents could easily happen in Mayo, with a devastating affect on people's health and the local ecosystem, ” he said.
When contacted by The Mayo News, a Shell spokeswoman declined to comment on garda operations but did say that ‘work at Aughoose is proceeding satisfactorily’.
However, a Rossport Solidarity Camp spokesman said last night that: “Actions against the Corrib project were ongoing and there was a constant stream of people joining the camp in solidarity with the local protesting community.”
He observed that Corrib partner, Vermillion recently stated that Corrib gas would not now come on stream until 2014, a year later than was projected at last year’s An Bord Pleanála oral hearing.
He continued: “The camp has been here since 2005 supporting the local campaign and we plan to be here for the winter.”
Meanwhile, Superintendent Pat Diskin of Belmullet Garda Station confirmed to The Mayo News that a male and female from outside the jurisdiction were arrested and brought to Belmullet Garda station. He said both were charged with public order related offences and will appear before Belmullet District Court in September.
A High Court judicial review of permissions and ministerial consents for the work has been granted to An Taisce and some residents. It is due to be heard in October.
Retired teacher and chairman of community group, Pobal Chill Chomáin, Vincent McGrath reiterated the fact that the community was not against the project per se, just the manner in which it is being developed.
“This was always about the cheapest option for Shell. The word community was bandied about so much by our State representatives, especially before the election. We have been abandoned here by the Establishment, whose duty it is to protect us. It looks, to us, like it is Shell’s way or no way. They say they have all the consents; how can they have consents when they need so many gardaí and private security personnel.”