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Sligo Support for 'Shell to Sea' Jailed Activist


Sligo supporters were among the large numbers gathered on Saturday for a rally outside Castlerea prison in County Roscommon to celebrate the release of jailed Shell to Sea and Human Rights activist Pat 'the chief' O'Donnell.

Mr.O'Donnell was released after serving more than five months of a seven month imposed after he was convicted of 'public order' offences following a cavalcade in support of fellow campaigner Maura Harrington who was on hunger strike at the time. Niall Harnett remains imprisoned in Castlerea on similar charges having served almost three months of his five month sentence so far.

They are campaigning against the building by Shell of an experimental pipeline carrying raw unrefined gas through their community in north Mayo and against the giveaway of our natural resources to Shell, resources believed to be worth at least €500 Billion.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Sligo business people, led by Government TD, Dr Jimmy Devins, attended a meeting last week in Dublin with the Gas Regulator to further attempts to have a spur line laid to bring the gas to Sligo - and beyond.

Amongst those there to greet Mr O'Donnell on his release was his wife and children, friends and neighbours from north Mayo, Shell to Sea campaigners and activists from a number of political parties including éirígí, the socialist republican party.

Left: Pat O'Donnell leaves prison.

Speaking at the gates of the prison following his release he said that his time in prison had not damaged him or his resolve. He described it as a “learning experience” and that he was stronger and remained defiant. He added, “the real criminals are walking the streets. By that, I mean the bankers, the developers and the politicians.”

Maura Harrington who has been jailed on five separate occasions for her role in protests against Shells planned pipeline read out a statement of support from Cllr Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, the Mayor of Roscommon County Council. In his statement to Pat, Cllr Flanagan said: “Your bravery in standing up to tyranny should be commended. It was not people who hid under the beds that won freedom for Ireland. It was people like yourself.”

Cllr Flanagan continued: “It was not crooks like Bertie Ahern and Ray Burke that this state was created for. It was for people like you. Your dedication to what is right is what gives hope that things can change. Without people like Pat O'Donnell this country would be a lesser place. Keep up the fight. Why keep quiet simply because you are bloody well right.”

Amongst those in attendance was éirígí Sligeach (Sligo) activist Gerry Casey. He praised Mr.O'Donnell's resiliance and pledged the party's continued support to the Shell to Sea campaign.

He told SLIGO TODAY, “Pats jailing, as with that of Niall Harnett who remains in prison, is a massive miscarraige of justice. Pat's real crime was refusing to be bought off by Shell or intimidated by various arms of the state, including the Gardai and judiciary. He and his colleagues in the Shell to Sea campaign are to be praised for their resilience and defiance despite all the odds being stacked against them. The are an inspiration and their honesty and integrity stands in stark contrast to that of the wealthy business and political elite who have brought the economy of this country to its knees.”

Mr Casey concluded: “The economic future of this island and the safety of families living near the route of this planned pipeline must not be sacrificed in order to make obscene profits for Shell. These are our natural resources. They need to be nationalised and utilised safely for the benefit of all, not for Shell and other oil companies.”