Rossport anti-Shell & Statoil solidarity actions (& background article) - Dublin, Nottingham, London, Cork

Shell HQ Dublin blockade 1
Shell HQ Dublin blockade 2

18.2.06

Shell's headquarters in Dublin were blockaded during lunchtime today by bicycles and supporters of Rossport's campaign to prevent a dangerous, high-pressure pipeline being built through their community.

70 people blocked both entrances – on Leeson St and Adelaide Road – for about an hour using a D-Lock and about 20 bicycles. The action, which was advertised as a rally outside the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources on the other side of Adelaide Road, was organised to draw attention to the opening of the Rossport Solidarity Camp next week.

The main door of Corrib House was locked by Shell to Sea members and then other supporters chained their bicycles in a line across the entrance. No staff were seen to leave or arrive during the blockade.

In the Rossport area in Co Mayo, continuous blockades by locals since last summer have prevented work on the Corrib Gas pipeline and refinery from taking place. Today simultaneous actions took place in Cork, Amsterdam and Sweden.

There was virtually no Garda presence at the action in Dublin, but there was a heavy media presence.

http://www.shelltosea.com

========================================================================

Shell solidarity Nottingham garage blockade

Today a Critical Mass and blockade shut a Shell Petrol Station on Woodside Road and the A52 in Nottingham.

The oil giant shell continues to ride rough shod over local communities from Nigeria to Co Mayo in Ireland. It sponsors human rights abuses, funds testing on animals at research labs' like HLS and destroys the environment. Soon work on the pipeline being built in Co Mayo Ireland will start again. It will poison the local area, endanger residents and further add to climate chaos. In solidarity with the struggles against Shell around the world, a critical mass of over 30 bikes and a mobile sound system rode through Nottingham today, highlighting the evils of Shell to motorists and passers by.Hundreds of leaflets were handed out outside of the Shell petrol station forecourt on Woodsde road and the A52. The entrances and exits were blocked for over an hour. Drivers were deterred from using the station. The Police turned up but had little choice but to let the blockade continue, they ended up parking their police cars accross the entrances to the forecourt after motorists had tried to force their way through the barricade of cyclists in desperation to refuel their vehicles and buy their newspapers.

The campaign continues and urges people to Act Now and help local people stop this Shell Hell !

Shell solidarity Nottingham Market Square

Following the one hour blockade of a Shell petrol station on one side of Nottingham the 25 cyclists took a leisurely ride across town to the next Shell station and blockaded that for another hour. Stickers were liberally applied and info leaflets attached to the pumps.

Running out of Shell stations we rode up to the market square where many people who congregate there on a Saturday appreciated the arrival of the sound system and an impromptu party ensued. The banner was unfurled and many more leaflets given out. Many passers by came to speak to us to find out what the protest was about, others came up helped themselves to placards while and characters in fancy dress collecting for the NSPCC joined in and held up the large banner for us.

A pretty successful day with over 400 leaflets distributed. Nottingham is now much better informed about Shell’s disgusting behaviour and plans in Mayo.

It was widely agreed that this was so effective we should do it again.

Oh, and BBC television came and filmed and an item was broadcast on BBC Nottingham TV on Saturday pm.

To all our friends in Rossport and Mayo we say– Shell WILL be sent to hell.

========================================================================

Shell London garage blockade 1
Shell London garage blockade 2
Shell London garage blockade 3

18.02.2006
Activists successfully shut down a Shell petrol station and sections of Upper Street in Islington, North London for four hours this afternoon. Two daring climbers scaled onto the garage roof and hung a banner reading Stop Shell Hell in North West Ireland Now, whilst others blockaded the entrance wearing white biohazard suits spelling out Shell Hell. Rythms of Resistance blockaded the other entrance with full blown samba rhythms. The petrol pumps were sealed off with 'caution, global warming' tape and a huge banner was held across one entrance saying Danger, Keep Out, Shell Hell in Operation. There was loads of interest from the public passing by who stopped to look on, dance and support the action. Two and a half thousand leaflets were given out. Along with hundreds of cars who were unable to fill up today, several supermarket lorries turned back in confusion, unable to get their oil fix to deliver the goods on time.

The cops were there with their mobile cctv unit and fit team as usual but kept their distance until the roof dwellers tried to come down. The activists were attempting to protect the climbers as they left the roof, when around forty cops charged around the corner and contained everyone in against the side of the garage. One girl was violently arrested as the cops pushed and shoved people against the wall (but she was later released without charge). People were then contained under section 50 and told to leave but that they would be arrested if they didn't give their names and addresses. Concerned with protecting the climbers on their descent, activists stayed put until they were safely on the ground. Shortly thereafter the two climbers were snatched from the group and nicked. Detainees left one by one after being forced under threat of arrest to give a name and address to the cops and blinded by the police camera for photos.

Earlier today a critical mass of over 30 bikes and a mobile sound system rode through Nottingham highlighting the evils of Shell to motorists and passers by. Hundreds of leaflets were handed out outside of the Shell petrol station forecourt on Woodside road and the A52. The entrances and exits were blocked for over an hour.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/02/333974.html

Yesterday Shell's headquarters in Dublin were blockaded by bicycles and supporters of Rossport's campaign to prevent a dangerous, high-pressure pipeline being built through their community.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/02/333923.html

Audio report at:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2006/02//334336.mp3

It's a proper little film that hopefully captures the afternoon. it's nearly fifteen minutes long, but this compression makes it only 10.8 Mb, so it's just about do-able even on dial-up if you're patient.
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2006/02//334422.mp4

best way to guarantee you can view this film is:
download it it, saving it to your computer hard disc.
download videolan vlc free media player for mac, windows, or linux
(you should have this free player anyway - it rocks, and it's free!!)
open the film in vlc and enjoy

Below is the Press Release for the London action which was sent out this evening and more information can be found at:

www.londonrisingtide.org.uk
www.corribsos.com
www.shellfacts.com
www.indymedia.ie/mayo
www.struggle.ws/rsc

-------------------
PRESS RELEASE
Activists Shut Down Shell Hell

Activists shut down a Shell petrol station in North London today as part of an international day of action against a Shell-led gas pipeline and refinery development in County Mayo, Ireland.

The activists blockaded the entrance and exit to the forecourt, disabled the petrol pumps with ‘Caution Global Warming’ hazard tape, and hung a banner from the roof of the garage reading ‘Stop Shell Hell in North West Ireland Now!’ The petrol station was shut all afternoon, and part of Upper
Street was closed off to traffic. The carnival-like atmosphere provided by a noisy samba band came to an abrupt halt as police contained the protesters, who were attempting to leave peacefully. Three of the activists were arrested.

The international day of action was called to draw attention to the struggle to stop the construction of a gas pipeline and refinery in County Mayo, which would transform a remote conservation area of outstanding natural beauty into an environmental disaster zone with serious public health and safety implications.

The pipeline and refinery will poison the area, threatening the safety of the residents who live just metres away, endangering the marine environment and destroying livelihoods based on fishing. Shell’s plans are
fully backed by the Irish State, which used compulsory acquisition orders to give Shell access to local people's lands.
(www.londonrisingtide.org.uk, www.corribsos.com)

Local residents and people from across Ireland are fighting back, and in 2005, five Rossport residents were jailed for 3 months for attempting to prevent construction workers from entering their land. Last summer, residents and activists set up a protest camp on the site of the proposed pipeline and prevented construction by shutting down both the pipeline and refinery building sites. Work on the project has still not begun, and the camp is seeking as many people as possible to join them this summer to stop Shell again.

The battle in Ireland is just one of many struggles against Shell’s environmental and human rights abuses around the world. Shell’s oil empire is also making a huge contribution to climate chaos, trading over 14 million barrels of crude oil equivalent every day. The company’s recent record profits of $23 billion come only at the expense of massive damage
to the climate. (www.risingtide.org.uk)

The activists were from Rising Tide, Rhythms of Resistance and other groups.

For more information and photos, call 07708 794665 or email london@risingtide.org.uk
http://www.londonrisingtide.org.uk

========================================================================

Statoil Cork garage blockade 1
Statoil Cork garage blockade 2

17.2.06

tonight there was a small but very effective blockade of a statoil garage on the way out of cork.
at five oclock the start of rush hour, also alot of horns ,smiles and raised fist ,from motorists all showing there support.
we are encouraging a boycott of statoil as the are partners with shell in the gas mayo pipeline,that should never be built.

i am sending this article mainly to the pictures the protest efectively stopped buisness was almost completetly in saying that , some motoerists may have used the petrol station before the one we were picketing?,though many slowed down as if they had been intent on using the garage.there were around 15 people , the banners were great , thats what worked in my opinion, well done all the banner makers.

the gards came , someone had apparently complained, they werent nasty just told us not to block the road. and off they went .
any way all the best for the coming year of stuggle against the giant oil companys.

========================================================================

A year of Resistance in Rossport; another year of it beckons…

Protests are taking place today in Ireland, England, Scotland and Sweden to mark the re-opening of Rossport Solidarity Camp, a protest camp supporting a community based struggle against Shell in the West of Ireland. This article is a backgrounder on what has been happening this last year.

“We are ready for attack by the state. The mood here is one of absolute determination. We in Erris havn’t been attacked by the state since 1798, when the redcoats were sent in after the French landed.�
- Micheál Ó Seighin, formerly imprisoned at the behest of Shell, 9/02/06.

Erris is a remote area on Ireland’s western Atlantic coast, in the county of Mayo. It is quite a poor, sparsely populated area, subject to a lack of local employment, and consequent migration, as well as considerable state neglect.

Since 2000 there has been a project to build there an unprecedented high-pressure gas pipeline and on shore
refinery, a development that has been stoutly resisted every step of the way by many local residents. Initially the consortium behind the plan was headed by Enterprise Oil, in the spring of 2002 this company was bought by Shell, the consortium also includes Norwegian semi-state company Statoil and American multi-national Marathon.

The on land part of the development beings with the beachhead among an expanse of sand dunes called
Glengad, here the pipeline hits land, it then crosses over a small part of the bay, to move up the far side of the bay, alongside Rossport, later it crosses over the narrow bay again, to go to the refinery site, in what was a state forest plantation in Ballinaboy. So there is a compound in Rossport, for building that section of pipeline, a construction site in Ballinaboy, and a cleared area in Glengad for a yet unbuilt compound.

Spring 2005
This time last year the issues surrounding this development were not well known nationally, indeed even the existence of the development itself was not well known. The bulk of the opposition to date had been concentrated on making formal objections in the planning process, and after that issuing a legal challenge to the planning decision in the High Court. Certainly theimpression I got on my first visits to the area was that the official planning roundabout had left people feeling defeated and demoralised. Erris certainly wasn’t bedecked in anti-Shell placards and banners and murals as it is now.

A stretch of small holdings in Rossport owned by objectors to the development was Shell’s weak point. In order to use this land Compulsory Acquisition Orders (CAOs) were issued by the state, the first time they were used in a private development, and in fact legislation was changed so that CAOs could be used for a gas pipeline. A number of landowners along the route were pressured into excepting a small amount of compensation in return for going along with this, especially those that owned shares in the commons, and therefore were living some distance away from the proposed pipeline. Others resisted. Residents who owned no land, or no land earmarked for construction, were not consulted. For instance the first communication from Shell received by Vincent McGrath, whose home is actually the closest to the route, was a notice that they would be seeking his imprisonment.

Shell were refused access to the lands of objectors in January and March and got a temporary injunction in April on the basis that they were losing a lot of money by not being able to start work

Summer 2005.
On the first weekend in June 2005 we held a ‘Solidarity Gathering’ in a field in Rossport, this involved tours of the area, talks and music. During the second day of this the national wing of ‘Shell to Sea’ was established, at least on a skeleton basis, with a discussion around what could be done, and with people volunteering to get things moving in their home areas. Essentially also arising out of this bank holiday weekend, was the protest camp, aka Rossport Solidarity Camp, in that relationships were made which later lead in that direction.

A few weeks later there was another attempt at entry onto the lands of the farmers resisting the pipeline construction – this was the breaking of the injunction for which the imprisonments were made.

A couple of days after this, on June 18th, the road to the Rossport compound was blockaded by parking cars on its verge, the road being so narrow heavy goods vehicles cannot pass parked cars. A truck carrying pipe was stuck between two lines of parked cars, one line to its front and one to its rear. This went on for 12 days 24 hours a day, with people on site at all times. A similar episode had actually occurred some weeks earlier, but then only for a couple of hours, the removal of the truck in that case
having been negotiated.

During this time a number of significant things happened. The vigil on the roadside became a focal point in mobilising people locally, many of whom were longstanding opponents of the development, but whom had, up till this point, little opportunity to practically oppose it. Meanwhile the call went out for people to travel up to the area to act in support of the struggle. The “camp� one might say, begins now, though accommodation was actually in a house at this point. In response to all this a new injunction is issued, dealing with interfering with traffic, and notice that Shell would be seeking imprisonments were sent out to five households in connection with the earlier injunction.

On the 29th of June five men were taken to the High Court in Dublin, Willie Corduff, Vincent McGrath, Brendan Philbin, Philip McGrath, and Micheál Ó Seighin, aka “The Rossport Five�, in what was at attempt at intimidation, which was supposed to quell
opposition. This backfired when they refused to abide by the court order forbidding them from refusing Shell access to their farmlands and those of their neighbours, and they were imprisoned.

At this point outraged mass picketing began at the two main construction sites, the Ballinaboy refinery site, and the Rossport compound, the mainstream media, hitherto absent, made it into a big story, and the national campaign mushroomed. Shell announced a temporary ten day halt to work, which, as picketing was maintained, turned into a suspension for the rest of the year. The Solitaire, the world’s largest pipelaying ship, was to come in on the 15th of August, to lay the off-shore section of pipeline, but, due to the fact that local fishermen had mobilised at least 15 to 20 boats to exercise their fishing rights in its path,
Shell have been forced to temporarily shut down that part of construction also.

Autumn/Winter 2005
On the 30th of September the prisoners were released after Shell asked for the injunction to be lifted in response to massive popular pressure. At this time the camp disbanded, weather conditions not permitting major building work, and the main focus became on preparing for this year.

In the next months the state attempted to make a compromise, or to mollify public opinion, depending on which way you look at it, with public consultation meetings, largely boycotted, an independent mediation process between Shell and the Rossport Five, from which the later withdrew citing state interference, and a safety review, which campaigners criticised due to the narrowness of its remit.

In addition in November an attempt to hook the Rossport compound up to the national electricity grid was prevented by a womens’ picket, and in January 2006 a visit by Shell’s ‘social responsibility’ committee to Erris was gatecrashed.

Also over the winter Shell have claimed that they need to access the Ballinaboy site to prevent pollutants running off into rivers, technicians have been allowed into the site to do this, monitored by picketers, and pickets have been maintained in order that this work, and no other, be done. However monitoring has revealed that Shell have largely be negligent in this environmental management, leading people to believe that this was either testing the waters to see if they could get away with resuming work, or an attempted publicity stunt (e.g. “protestors prevent crucial environmental protection� type headlines).

Rossport Solidarity Camp:

The camp reopens on Saturday the 25th of February.
This year it will be positioned near the beachhead where the pipeline hits land.
You can read more about the camp here:
http://www.struggle.ws/rsc/ and here
http://www.indymedia.ie/mayo
What can you do to help?
Well the number one thing that is needed, as always, is people, people with a variety of skills and experiences to contribute to a collective effort of equals.
You can come for as long or as little as you like.
Also needed, as always is money, here is the camp bank account details:

Name : Rossport Solidarity Camp
Account number : 24306733
Bank code(branch)NSC : 905299
Branch address : Belmullet, Co.Mayo.
IBAN No. : IE83 BOFI 9052 9924 3067 33
BIC No. : BOFIIE2D

Help with spreading the word is also very useful, especially in regard to contacts outside Britain and Ireland, particularly in Holland and Italy, as some of the main contractors are based in those places (Sicim in Italy, Tideway/Allseas in Holland).

You can contact the camp at:
rossportsolidaritycamp(at)gmail.com
Or by phone 00353 97 20944