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Update on opposition to Shell Corrib Gas Project in Ireland

Rossport Solidarity Camp Update – 14th March 09

This is a brief update on the recent jailing of Maura Harrington, the attack on Niall Harnett and other recent legal updates.

Summary of the Update Below

Maura Harrington has been jailed for 28 days (now in her 4th day).  Please send her a postcard.
Shell Work in Glengad still hasn’t begun, but is expected to in the near future.  Off-shore pipe laying expected to begin in May.
Gardaí have begun to hand out summonses to local Shell to Sea people in advance of the Shell work beginning

Maura Harrington Jailed for 28 Days

On 11 March 2009, Maura Harrington was sentenced to 28 days in prison in relation to an assault at Pollathomais Pier on the 11th June 2007.  On that occasion, Gardaí and Shell used a digger to force their way onto private property against the wishes of the landowner in order to facilitate the construction of a portacabin.
Here’s a YouTube clip of the Pier incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP7iBPIBkZc
Or to read an indy report on it see: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/82983

On that day, around 20 local people were injured by Gardaí, but no Garda has ever been brought to justice.  During the hearing of the case, Maura Harrington refused to take the stand in her own defence after Judge Mary Devins refused to allow video footage of the incident to be admitted.  This incident was one of the more brutal examples of the State and Shell’s disregard for the health and well-being of the people of Erris.  Paddy McGrath who land the incident happened out suffered a severe stroke, 9 days after this incident which doctors said was brought on by anxiety and stress.

Judge Devins lectured Maura on the horror of the attack of one public servant against another – a principal against a policeman – and questioned Maura’s mental state, ordering her to seek psychiatric evaluation.  She went on to order Maura to sign a bond preventing her from interfering with Shell’s operations in Mayo for a year and also pay €1000 to the Garda Benevolent Fund.  Maura refused these insults, was given two more days in prison for contempt of court, and was escorted out of the courtroom by Gardaí, to a rousing standing ovation from Shell to Sea supporters.

Latest Info when Shell work will start

It is still unclear as to when exactly the work will start.  At the moment all is still quiet in Glengad but we expect them to begin work anytime in the coming weeks.  In the last few days Shell have sent around letters to the fishermen in the area saying that the Solitaire will begin laying the pipe in Broadhaven Bay “around May”.  We have heard that a local subcontractor that provides the safety boats has told workers that they will be working from the start of April.  It also seems that the Government are trying to get some talks going between the Shell and the local community so this might also delay Shell for a short while.

Other Legal Updates

Political policing in Erris is ongoing.  Shell is due to re-commence work at Glengad this spring, and at the same time, Gardaí have handed out at least 25 summonses to 10 different people for their opposition to Shell.  The summonses have been issued for several events from the past year, including a cavalcade of cars supporting Maura Harrington on hunger strike, protests outside of Shell headquarters in Belmullet and the Glengad construction site gates, and destruction of a net damaging bird nests on Glengad beach.  While hundreds of people were involved in these events altogether, the summonses seem to have been delivered to targeted individuals, some people receiving five or six separate summonses.
Also in Belmullet Court on Wednesday, two Rossport residents initiated proceedings against Shell.   Shell and their sub-contractors have been carrying out site investigations on Rossport Commonage throughout the winter, in violation of a previous court ruling prohibiting them from such investigations.  The case was adjourned until the 14th of May to court in Achill.

Niall Harnett attacked, and his assault charges against Gardaí dismissed

Camp member Niall Harnett was assaulted by gardaí at the Belmullet courthouse on Wednesday, 11 March.  Gardaí initiated a scuffle around lunchtime in the courtroom and in the doorway area between the courtroom and the lobby.  Niall received an injury to his back, and was unable to walk until the following day.  He left the courthouse in an ambulance, and was admitted to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar overnight.  He has been released from the hospital, and is recovering from soft tissue trauma in his back and neck. 

Niall was scheduled to appear in Achill District Court on Thursday, 12 March for a hearing of his case against three Belmullet Gardaí, but could not attend the hearing because he was still in the hospital.  He was bringing charges of assault against the Gardaí – one of whom was involved in the incident at the Belmullet courthouse the previous day.  Judge Devins was provided with a fax from the hospital and testimony of a camp member to explain Niall’s absence.  She was present in the courtroom during the assault as well.  In spite of all this, she dismissed the case because of Niall’s failure to appear in court.  Judge Devins and defence solicitor Liam Guidera went on to grill the camp member on the stand about their communication with Niall, whereabouts on Wednesday night, and half an hour’s worth of other questions unrelated to Niall’s injuries and health condition.

In the end, this is another absolutely shocking decision against Shell to Sea and justice generally by Judge Devins.  Shell to Sea supporters continue to be tied up in court cases on trumped up charges for everything under the sun, while Gardaí have yet to be successfully prosecuted for any of their brutal attacks on the people involved in this campaign. 

Seal Sanctuary 

In non-legal related news, the Irish Seal Sanctuary released a seal pup back into the wild on Sunday, the 1st of March on Blacksod Point.  Several Shell to Sea campaigners and camp members were asked to speak and assist with the release.  You can view photos of the event here: http://www.irishsealsanctuary.ie/  This struggle is about more than court cases and skirmishes with police.  Plus….seal pups are cute.

Submissions in Opposition to Pipeline

Monday, March 9, local residents handed in 131 submissions to the Department of Energy & Natural Resources in opposition to the proposed Corrib Gas pipeline.  Another 100 were estimated to have been sent independently.  The majority of the submissions called on Minister Eamon Ryan to hold a public oral hearing so that their opposition to the current pipeline can be heard openly.

So….what can we do?

That’s a general update on the situation out here for now.  The next month or two will see more court cases and probably the beginning of the construction site at Glengad.  Works that were expected to start the first weekend in March are now expected to start the first weekend in April, with other delays still a possibility.  Keep in touch with the camp for further updates on the expected time-frame for construction.
Please consider doing one of the following:

Support Maura at Mountjoy

Write letters, send postcards, let her know she isn’t in there alone.  “From the outside in, to the inside out, solidarity – shout it out!”

Maura Harrington,
Dochas Centre,
Mountjoy Prison,
North Circular Road,
Dublin 7
Come visit Mayo:
You would be more than welcome to stay at the camp.  Find directions here: http://www.rossportsolidaritycamp.110mb.com/directions.html
There are jobs for everyone to do from making banners, doing actions, supporting people in court, or starting this year’s garden.
Take action at Home
Everyone won’t have the time to travel over so there’s a load that can be done from wherever you are.  See http://www.rossportsolidaritycamp.110mb.com/support.html for some suggestions.  There are other jobs that can be done from a distance, including research, so if you are interested in doing some of this work please contact us.
Consider making a donation to the campaign.  A few fines have been handed down in the last few weeks so any money you can contribute would be most welcome.

The Rossport Solidarity Camp Account.

Bank of Ireland, Belmullet, Co Mayo.

Account Number: 24306733 Sort Code 905299

Bank ID: BOFIIE2D IBAN No:IE83 BOFI 9052 9924 3067 33

Take care and hope to see lots of ye soon,
Rossport Solidarity Camp

http://www.rossportsolidaritycamp.110mb.com
[email protected]
085-1141170

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