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Shell to Sea campaigner released from jail

By: 
Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

ERRIS FISHERMAN Pat O’Donnell has pledged to continue his opposition to the Corrib gas project on health, safety and environmental grounds, following his release from prison at the weekend.

Mayor of Roscommon Cllr Luke “Ming” Flanagan sent a message of support to Mr O’Donnell during a rally held by Shell to Sea supporters in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, to mark the fisherman’s release on Saturday morning.

Mr O’Donnell (52) served just over five months of a seven-month sentence imposed at Castlebar Circuit Court on February 10th last.

He received a three-month sentence for threatening and abusive behaviour towards a garda at Glengad on September 13th, 2008, and an additional four months for wilful obstruction of a peace officer on September 14th, 2008 at Doolough, Geesala.

Speaking after the rally and a car cavalcade to Ballina, via Roscommon and Castlebar, Co Mayo, Mr O’Donnell said that his “worst fears had been realised” in prison, when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th.

As a fisherman, he said he “felt” for his colleagues who could no longer fish in the Gulf of Mexico due to the consequent pollution.

“They were depending on “fail safe” valves which didn’t work . . . the same thing could happen here,” Mr O’Donnell said.

He said he met some of “the most decent people ever” in prison – men from “difficult social backgrounds who had committed crime at a young age and were unable to put their lives back together”.

Up to 120 attended the Shell to Sea rally to mark Mr O’Donnell’s release, including some supporters of the Éirígí socialist republican political party. Éirígí Sligo activist Gerry Casey paid tribute in a statement to Mr O’Donnell’s “resilience” and said he pledged his party’s “continued support” for the Shell to Sea campaign.