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Annual Rossport Gathering

By: 
Bobajob - SHELLTOSEA - Indymedia

Hundreds gather to support Shell to Sea campaign

Supporters from around the world joined in the annual gathering over the past weekend at the Rossport Solidarity Camp at Broadhaven Bay, County Mayo in support of the Shell to Sea campaign. A large contingent of cyclists travelled from Britain via Merthyr Tydfil in Wales where another campaign is focussed to stop an ugly open-cast coal mine which is destroying the environment, polluting air and water and endangering the community.

A view across the camp towards Rossport
A view across the camp towards Rossport

The gathering at Rossport has been held every year since the jailing of the Rossport 5 in 2005 - local residents who refused, for reasons of health, safety and clean environment, to allow Shell / Statoil to lay an experimental high-pressure raw gas pipeline through their properties. The Irish government had, in an unprecedented move, provided the multi-nationals with compulsory purchase orders. The five were given indefinite prison sentences but were released after 3 months following massive public outcry. A later hearing vindicated them when the original pipeline route was rejected because of dangerous proximity to dwellings.

A new route is now being put forward, but is still considered unacceptable by Shell to Sea who believe that the only safe way to bring the gas ashore is by refining it at sea and bringing it in at low pressure. The dangers have been well highlighted by disasters worldwide including the Piper Alpha explosion, the pipeline explosion at Carlsbad, New Mexico (August 2000 when a family of 12 living over 200 metres away were completely wiped out), the outrageous death and destruction in Nigeria and now the BP oil disaster.

The Merthyr to Mayo cycle rally called at Castlerea prison to support fisherman Pat O'Donnell and fellow Shell to Sea supporter Niall Harnett who are both now serving jail terms for obstructing police who had been brought in the ensure Shell employees were not hampered in their work - the Irish government takes care of big business without regard for the livelihoods of the local community and the health of their environment !

The whole project was pushed ahead without consulting the local people - the refinery, 9 km inland (selected because it was state-owned forestry land) now approaching completion and the seaward pipeline layed. But still no legally permitted nor locally agreed inland route ! And not likely to be ! Local campaigners have had their lives totally disrupted for more than 10 years now with this nonsense and are utterly committed to the point of putting their lives on the line, literally.

Broadhaven Bay 'Special Area of Conservation'

Broadhaven Bay 'Special Area of Conservation'