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Press Release: Twenty Seven Shell to Sea Campaigners face Special Court Sittings

Press Release

Monday, 22 March 2010

Issued by Mayo Shell to Sea

For immediate release

Twenty Seven Shell to Sea Campaigners face Special Court Sittings

Today marks the beginning of a week long special sitting of the Belmullet District Court in Co. Mayo. The unprecedented number of cases taken against local people by the State, has ensured that the standard sittings of the Belmullet District Court are not able to cope with the abnormally high level of cases to be heard.

The Shell to Sea campaign has held many peaceful protests in the years since its inception. Several of theses peaceful protest have used ‘direct action’ methods, such as sit down protests, ‘lock-ons’ and attempts to remove illegally erected fencing. Shell to Sea campaigners have faced unprecedented levels of violence from Gardaí in Mayo in response to these peaceful direct actions and protests, resulting in numerous hospitalisations of campaigners over the past four years.  

There have been over 130 complaints referred to the Garda Ombudsman from Shell to Sea campaigners. The Gardaí have to date refused to implement any of the disciplinary procedures against members of the force recommended by the Garda Ombudsman in relation to Shell to Sea cases. Equally, the Director of Public Prosecutions has refused to prosecute any cases against Gardaí for actions taken against Shell to Sea campaigners.  

In comparison large numbers of campaigners have been arrested and charged with minor public order and criminal damage offences over the past two years.  

Terence Conway said, “Our local community is being criminalised for its opposition to Shell’s proposed experimental raw gas pipeline and inland refinery. We have always maintained peaceful protests and have been harassed and beaten for this.”

“The protests which campaigners are currently in court facing charges for relate to our opposition to illegal construction works at Glengad for sections of Shell’s experimental raw gas pipeline. An Bord Pleanala has confirmed that Shell omitted this construction work from its planning permission application. To date Shell has faced no consequences for its illegal construction work at Glengad.”

ENDS

 

FOR VERIFICATION, COMMENT OR MORE INFO, CONTACT:
Terence Conway        

NOTES OF EDITORS

Shell to Sea is a national campaign with active groups based across Ireland. The Shell to Sea campaign has three main aims. 1) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted. 2) To have the Corrib gas field exploited in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health and safety risks. 3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery. 

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of gas and oil in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2009 of $60, this works out at $600 billion, or €420 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south coast or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.