By Danny Byrne
On 9 November, over 300 protestors gathered at Shell’s proposed refinery site at Bellanaboy, North Mayo.
The protest brought together the local community, whose health and livelihoods are under attack by the profit-maximising onshore gas pipeline and refinery planned for their area, with protestors from around the country. Many came to fight the government’s criminal giveaway of up to ?600 billion worth of natural resources for free, to satisfy the greed of multinational oil companies, with no benefit to ordinary people.
Protestors were greeted with the now familiar spectacle of at least 300 Gardai who as per usual displayed serious brutality: punching, kicking, choking and throwing protestors into ditches. One protestor narrowly escaped life-threatening injury when a lorry carrying huge boulders was forced through a crowd of protestors, running over his foot causing serious damage. The blatant disregard of Gardai for the well-being of protestors underlines the fact that to the state, Shell’s profits come before the health, safety and wellbeing of local residents, warranting the provision of a virtual army of Gardai as a private security force for Shell.
Protestors successfully slowed down work on the life-threatening refinery on numerous occasions, at one stage holding a lorry up for over an hour, showing the potential that mass action could have in the future. Further days of solidarity are likely to be called in the near future. All who wish to support a besieged community against a multi-national corporation and their hired goons, and who oppose the theft of Ireland’s natural resources should travel up and show their support. Only through mass action by ordinary people from across the country can Shell be stopped.