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Ryan’s door open

Ryan’s door open

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Confrontation?Shell to Sea supporters and gardaí clashed once again last Friday.?Pic: John O’GradyMinister open to more dialogueÁine RyanMINISTER for Natural Resources, Eamonn Ryan, said last night (Monday) that his door is open for continued dialogue regarding the ongoing Corrib gas row. He was responding to questions by The Mayo News about the controversy in light of last Friday morning’s protest in Bellanaboy.The fact that the Minister spent over a day-and-a half visiting people from all sides of the controversy some weeks ago shows his commitment to resolving the project, according to a spokeswoman. “This was an unprecedented departure in the Government’s approach to the issue and he did it out of the glare of media attention so as not to compromise the integrity of his intention and to listen properly to the many viewpoints of people in the area,” said the spokeswoman. Meanwhile, ‘an unholy alliance between a delinquent government and a multinational’ was how the project was described by a Cork Shell to Sea protester attending one of the biggest protests for months in Bellanaboy. Over 150 gardaí, including members of the riot squad, policed the crowd of about 200 people who had gathered from Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Donegal and the local area for ‘a sit-down protest’ that quickly escalated into fractious interactions between both sides. According to Shell, however, there was minimum disruption to the ongoing work. “I’m here today to show support for a community under siege. This is about our natural resources and nobody voted for our resources to be given away. We are being impoverished by an unholy alliance between a multinational and a delinquent government,” said Ray Hanrahan from Cork Shell to Sea.By 8.30am, an initial low-key garda presence outside the proposed refinery’s main gate had transformed into a series of stand-offs on-site after around 50 protesters scaled the proposed refinery gate, opened it and allowed another wave through. Chief Supt Tony McNamara confirmed the large force of gardaí, and a number of Paddy Wagons, accessed the site by a smaller entrance after the incursion. Apparently, gardaí had been drafted in for the operation from Galway, Sligo, Limerick, Cavan and Monaghan. “We always have to have a Plan B. If the protest had remained peaceful, however, we wouldn’t have deployed all the gardaí,” said Supt McNamara. He said there had been five arrests and that charges may follow. He also confirmed that two gardaí had attended hospital for minor injuries, one a suspected broken nose. Organiser, Ms Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea was visibly shaking after her ejection from the site. She claimed she had witnessed a senior officer kicking a protester, while he lay on the ground. This was confirmed by a number of people. However, Chief Supt McNamara declined to comment on the incident, as he had not witnessed it.Ms Amanda Slevin from the group MAOR (Mobilise Action Overcome Reclaim) said her group was there in solidarity with the people of north Mayo.“This could happen in Donegal, there have been 13 different licences issued there. It is fundamentally wrong that a government will put the needs of big business before its own people,” said Ms Slevin. Shell spokesman, Mr Colin Joyce, said last Friday that despite the protest there had been minimum disruption to ongoing work and that 300 employees had entered the site.“Today’s illegal trespass by a large number of protesters was highly irresponsible and shows once again that Shell to Sea appears unable to control its supporters who are not from the local area,” said Mr Joyce.He also said that the first of the steel structures on-site had been erected earlier in the week and that employment is expected to grow rapidly to 700 workers by March 2008.

Posted Date: 
19 September 2007 - 1:29am