Shell's prosecutions failing in Belmullet


In order to break the resistance of the inhabitants of Erris to the Shell experimental gas pipeline dozens of people are now being prosecuted. Belmullet District Court is in the second day of a special 3 day session to carry out Shell's prosecutions. But things are not going Shell's way, of the 16 people being prosecuted in yesterdays session only one prosecution resulted in a fine.All 16 were facing Public Order charges - Public Order Act arrests have become routine in Erris and elsewhere in the country as a tool to criminalise protesters. Gardai often appear to make arrests and then try and squeeze them into the act afterwards. Yesterdays court case where seven cases were dismissed, one was struck out and one was withdrawn confirm that pattern. Two people were found 'technically guilty' but no penalty was imposed. The last four cases were adjourned until November.

All these cases and more to come today and tomorrow arise from a period of intense political repressions which has seen the deployment of 100's of Gardai, the Navy and the Airforce alongside a couple of hundred IRMS private security. Almost 50 million euro has been spent on this deployment over the last 3 years. Mayo Shell to Sea described this prosecutions arising from this deployment as "a further attempt by the Gardai to criminalise the community here for their legitimate opposition to the danger posed by Shell's pipeline, along with the giveaway of Ireland's natural resources."

Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington who has herself been jailed four times in Mountjoy in the last 12 months for continuing to resist the Shell pipeline said: “This was a great day, and a great vindication for a lot of the diligent and genuine campaigners against Shell. It shows that the Gardai are clearly attempting to quash protest here, but even more clearly that they are not doing it by fair and legal means, that their main concern is facilitating Shell .. clearly the Gardai feel the need to justify this huge waste of taxpayers' money by bringing as many people to court as possible. But that is not justice, and yesterday's judgments showed that.”

Eleven other people were jailed without trial until court action forced their release while Shell's pipelaying ship the Solitaire was in Broadhaven bay over the summer. The failure of the prosecutions yesterday reveals the extent to which the Gardai have been ordered to suppress protests without regard for civil liberties. Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “The bravery of the people involved with this campaign, who're facing up to the power of the State and the Gardai, is incredible. But as long as the injustice of the imposition of this unsafe, high-pressure pipeline on the community and the giveaway of Ireland's gas and oil continues, then so will our protests”.

Meanwhile those who sunk Shell to Sea campaigners Pat O'Donnells fishing boat and beat Willy Corduff shortly before the arrival of the Solitaire have not even been arrested. Nor have questions been answered as to the role of those who had worked for IRMS in the Shell compound in the attempt this Spring to spark a civil war in Bolivia which ended in the death of one of them and the arrest of another.

In the background is growing disquiet about the great gas and oil giveaway through which the Irish government has handed over billions of euro worth of oil & gas to the energy corporations which include Shell. In the face of an almost total silence in the media about the giveaway local Shell to Sea groups have started to distribute 120,000 leaflets to households all over Ireland that explain the scale of the giveaway. If you want to help end the silence contact Dublin Shell to Sea for some of these leaflets to distribute.

Leaflet text & PDF at
Dublin is at dublinshelltosea AT phone: 086 736 2417

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