Come up to Rossport! Shell Starts Work on onshore pipeline

22nd July 2011

Shell have brought a digger and a port-a-cabin into the existing temporary compound in Aughoose. This is in preparation to start building a permanent compound in Aughoose from which they hope to start digging the tunnel for the pipeline which will connect Ballinaboy refinery to the 70 kms of offshore pipeline. They will come in full force on Monday 25th July, please come up to Mayo and show your support! A mass day of action is planned for Friday 29th July, but come up any time.

There were over 70 IRMS (Shell's private security company) present to secure the two tractors with trailers bringing in the equipment. The private security blocked off about 300 metres of the public road to allow the tractors to enter the compound. Seven people from the Rossport Solidarity Camp ran down to try and intervene but a long line of IRMS had the road blocked off, and several people were assaulted by IRMS on the public road. Two people had to receive medical attention. One person has made a statement to the gardaí regarding the assaults, but the gardaí were quite reluctant to receive the statement.

The digger and the port-a-cabin entered the compound, however within 15 minutes over 20 protesters from the camp and local residents had gathered outside the compound, and no further work was carried out for the rest of the day.

Many of the IRMS security members seem to be new, and earlier this week members from the Rossport Solidarity camp observed a group of 12 IRMS members who seemed to be on their first shift. People went up to talk to the security guards, explaining to them why people are against the Shell project and talking to them about why they are there protesting. Many of the new security guards were visibly uncomfortable, and seemed quite affected by what they were hearing.

This over-show of force today may have been some sort of training session for the new IRMS security before the real work starts on Monday. When dealing with some of the protesters who had been speaking with the security guards, it was obviously much more difficult for them to use the force they'd been ordered to use on people. One protester from the Rossport Solidarity Camp explained that “it felt so much more empowering to talk to them on a human level and tell them why I was there, than to get beaten up by them. When the lads I'd been speaking with were ordered to remove me, they were barely able to touch me. It was a completely different experience than I've had with IRMS in the past.”

This activity on Friday follows a week of continuous actions at the Bord na Móna site in Shramore outside Bangor Erris. Shell intends use this site to store the 125,000 tonnes of peat meant to be removed from the bog at the Aughoose site. The 500,000 tonnes of peat removed from the Ballinaboy refinery site in 2006/7 was stored at Shramore. In the past few weeks private contractors have been extending the road network at Shramore to accommodate the Shell project. This week protesters from the Rossport Solidarity Camp have turned their attention to the Bord na Móna site and have been occupying trucks and diggers, blocking the front gates with concrete lock-ons, and putting barricades in the roads on-site. Here is a brief run-down of the week:

Tuesday: Four people put their arms into concrete lock-ons in front of the gate at the Shramore site, blocking work for three and a half hours. No arrests were made.

Wednesday: About 20 people entered the Shramore site, climbing on top of trucks and diggers to stop them working, blocking the front gates, and generally shutting down all works on site. The gardaí arrived on scene but eventually left without making any arrests.

Thursday: Work started at about 3pm at the Shramore site, and work was stopped about 30 minutes later. Protesters chained the gate shut to prevent trucks from delivering the gravel needed to extend the road network on the site. The vehicles within the site which were active were all successfully occupied, including three trucks, two diggers and one crane. The occupation continued for the rest of the working day, no arrests were made.

Friday: Work started just after 7:30am but was promptly halted by protesters blocking the front gate and subsequently occupying the few machines which had started work. Just before midday word arrived that work at the Aughoose site had begun, so most people left. Those who stayed saw that work did not start up again till about 2pm and by 3:30pm another group of protesters had returned to halt works again for the rest of the day.

In conclusion, very little work was accomplished at Bord na Móna's peat depository site in Shramore this week. Shell began work in Aughoose on Friday, and the local community is gearing up for a fine resistance next week when Shell comes in full force. Get up here and show your support! A day of mass action is planned for Friday the 29th of July, but come up sooner if you're able.

To get in touch with the camp: 00353 85 114 1170 or rossportsolidaritycamp[at]gmail[dot]com