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Rossport 5 should not have to spend another day or night in jail

After 58 days in prison the Rossport 5 should not have to spend another day or night in jail and Shell should immediately take the initiative and go back to the Court and waive the Injunction.
GILMORE CALLS ON SHELL TO LIFT INJUNCTION AGAINST ROSSPORT 5Speaking at the Humbert Summer School in Ballina today, Labour Party Spokesperson on the Environment, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, called on the Shell Oil Company to collapse its injunction again the Rossport 5 and to allow the five men to be released from prison.Deputy Gilmore said, “Today is the 58th day which the five men from Rossport will spend in prison. These normally law-abiding citizens have now spent more than two months in jail, in pursuit of a campaign to defend the health and safety of their families and communities. It is long past the time when they should be released.“The responsibility for their continued imprisonment rests with Shell. These men were committed to prison for contempt of court arising from a civil injunction which was sought and obtained by Shell. In such civil injunction cases the prisoners can be released if either they themselves purge their contempt of court or if Shell waives the injunction.”The reality is that over a two month period the five men have not gone back to Court to purge their contempt. Those who argue that it is up to themselves to do so and thereby secure their own release, fail to understand the dynamics which can be at work in a public controversy of this nature and the added difficulty of doing so after such a long period.“Shell however could go back to Court and ask to have the Injunction lifted which would clear the way for the release of the men.When the Labour Party Leader, Pat Rabbitte, put this proposal to Shell over a month ago, they argued that they could not do so as it would prejudice their options of seeking further Injunctions should protests continue. The legal advice available to the Labour Party is that this is not necessarily so and we pointed this out to Shell at the time.“Now, over a month later, there is nothing to prevent Shell from waiving the injunction. The circumstances have significantly changed since the first day on which these five men were committed to prison. The imprisonment was on foot of the injunction which was sought and secured by Shell to restrain the men from obstructing or interfering with the entry by Shell onto lands for the purpose of preparation, construction and installation of the pipeline.“Work on the construction of the pipeline has now stopped. The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has confirmed to the Dáil that Shell did not have the necessary permission for the construction of the pipeline in the first place, so the men are now in prison arising from a court injunction to stop them obstructing or interfering with the construction of a pipeline which was not itself legitimate from the very beginning.“Shell’s apparent concern that, if released, the men would return and resume their protest is therefore groundless because the very work against which they were protesting has now been stopped.“In any event. 58 days in prison is surely more than enough punishment for the men’s failure to comply with the terms of the court injunction. No matter what view is taken on the rights or wrongs of the Corrib Gas issue or the men’s protest or of the campaign associated with it, they should not have to spend another day or night in jail and Shell whose court injunction has caused them to be there, should act to secure their immediate release.“Now that work on the pipeline has stopped and now that Shell has undertaken to engage in dialogue, the continued imprisonment of these five men serves absolutely no purpose.“At a time when dangerous people are left free to commit crime against the innocent, because of insufficient evidence to convict them and when people who have committed serious crimes are being released from prison early, one has to wonder why on earth these five normally law abiding men have already served a prison sentence of over two months.“Shell should immediately take the initiative and go back to the Court and waive the Injunction which they first sought and obtained and thereby clear the way for the men’s release.”

Posted Date: 
21 August 2006 - 1:08am