"The government has relinquished control over the offshore areas of our industry. Norway was tough regarding oil companies from the start. You now have an almost embarrassingly large pension fund. The situation for Irish communities, however, is as in Ogoniland in Nigeria - oil is a curse,”
THE ROSSPORT FIVE’S centrality to the Corrib controversy was edged side-stage last week, as the so-called Porturlin Three emerged from last week’s twists and turns in the protracted saga. The Mayo News has learned that the possibility of three more men being jailed due to opposition to the onshore development of the project led to huge outpourings of support not only at the court sittings in Belmullet, Achill and Swinford, but also in a cavalcade from Bellacorick last Friday evening (July 13) which met the three fishermen — Pat O’Donnell, his son, Jonathan O’Donnell and Enda Carey— after the Swinford court sitting. Earlier that day, two protestors, from the locality, Terence Conway and Bob Kavanagh, had kept gardaí and the emergency services busy for about five hours, during which they attached themselves to the undercarriage of a van blocking the main road to the refinery site. The van was parked sideways, with the men’s chains attached to a steel girder, which had been welded to the vehicle. They are due to appear at Castlebar District Court tomorrow (Wednesday) having been charged with Public Order and Road Traffic offences. “This now brings to eight the number of people who have been jailed, due to Shell pushing through this project without the consent of the people directly affected by the refinery and the pipeline. There was no trouble in this peaceful community until Shell came along,” said Rossport Five’s Vincent McGrath.“These latest jailings have left people shocked and angered and have brought a whole new generation of supporters out of the woodwork. This whole situation resembles ‘an occupation’ with more and more people becoming alienated and disaffected,” he continued. Mr McGrath, who along with the other members of the Rossport Five spent 94 days in jail in 2005 for their opposition to the project, told The Mayo News that ‘there would be more and more jailings’. “Before we were jailed, people refused to take us seriously when we claimed it [the controversy] would lead to jailings. Now there are more and more people prepared to go to jail due to their opposition,” added Mr McGrath. He said that the campaign was ‘as strong as ever’, and that, moreover, ‘any impression it had faltered’ was due to the media’s lack of coverage.Referring to next Saturday’s National Day of Solidarity in Bellanaboy, Mr McGrath said he approved of the peaceful tactics used in Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA), stressing it was ‘a recognised form of protest’. However, Chief Supt Tony McNamara expressed a different view to The Mayo News, claiming the tactics used in NVDA involved ‘breaking the law’.“We welcome the fact that there is a significant number of local people always interested in a peaceful protest but unfortunately there are other elements who use these NVDA tactics,” said Supt McNamara. He added the Gardaí were aware of next Saturday’s protest, ‘would not be getting too excited about it’. He also said there was no evidence of a larger support group at the daily protest, which he claimed now usually numbered around 25 to 30 people.Shell to Sea spokesman, Mr John Monaghan, said the day was planned to show solidarity for the latest people ‘to be victimised’ by this dispute. He claimed the judicial system was biased and that locals were continuing to be assaulted by gardaí on a regular basis.