"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.”
SHELL EP Ireland was forced to suspend investigative work on the proposed new Corrib pipeline route in north Mayo yesterday when two Shell to Sea campaigners boarded one of the drilling rigs.
The two protesters secured themselves with a hammock under the drilling rig, and were still suspended from the structure yesterday evening.
Two other protesters were arrested by gardaí earlier yesterday during the demonstration, which began at 7am when nine kayakers and swimmers approached the two drilling rigs contracted by Shell to drill up to 80 boreholes in Sruwaddacon estuary, a special area of conservation. The two detained were later released and a file sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
One Garda rigid inflatable boat and up to 13 Shell and security boats were monitoring the demonstrators throughout the day and yesterday evening. The two men, who are members of Rossport Solidarity Camp, have dry suits and food, according to their supporters in the Shell to Sea campaign.
Work began with a second drill on the platform at 9am, but was halted after complaints by protesters on health and safety grounds.
A third woman who had been detained in the protest was left in the water by boat, and had to be picked up by one of the camp members. Róisín Ní Fhaoláin said the group felt the protest was justified, in light of An Taisce’s submission to the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing in Belmullet last Friday.
An Taisce called for the oral hearing into a revised route for the pipeline to be adjourned or new information submitted by Shell to be disallowed.
In an 80-page submission, it said appellants did not have time to assess new information submitted by Shell to the hearing in relation to its investigative work in Sruwaddacon estuary, which has been licensed by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
Gardaí confirmed there had been two arrests. Shell EP Ireland said last night that it could not comment.