It is still difficult to assess the scale of the disaster that followed the explosion on the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 22 April, which killed eleven workers. BP claims that ‘only’ 210,000 gallons a day of crude oil have been released so far, but others calculate the figure could be as high as 4.2 million gallons a day.
By Pete Dickenson
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.
by Paul Murphy
After over eighteen months as an important base for activists supporting the local community in opposing Shell, the Rossport Solidarity Camp has been ordered to dismantle by 1 January.
The bitter irony of their eviction is that the judge ruled that the camp should be dismantled because it didn’t have planning permission and had the potential to damage a special area of conservation. This while Shell builds a huge gas refinery that will pump pollution out of tall chimneys just down the road and a high pressure gas pipeline that has the potential to explode!
The difference is clear – the state has consistently backed up Shell, giving it €51 billion of our gas for free, while ordering and defending Garda brutality against peaceful protestors. This eviction is undoubtedly encouraged by Shell who have been surveying the estuary that runs right alongside the camp in preparation for laying the controversial pipeline.
Although Shell and the state now seem to think that they can deal the final blows to the campaign, the mass sitdown protest at the gates of the refinery on 14 September offers an opportunity to prove them wrong. A good turnout locally and nationally would demonstrate the continuing support for the campaign. Achieving even a relatively minor success, like causing serious disruption to Shell’s work for the day, will be crucial in helping to re-energise the campaign.