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Shell to Sea Fisherman Pat “The Chief” O’Donnell to be released Saturday 17th July

Event Notice: Protest at Castlerea Prison, 14:00, Saturday 17th July.

Mayo fisherman Mr. Pat O’Donnell is due to be released after 158 days in prison on July 17th. Mr. O’Donnell was sentenced to 7 months imprisonment on relatively minor charges as a consequence of his opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery and experimental raw gas pipeline. Mr. O’Donnell is now the longest serving Shell to Sea prisoner. The Rossport 5 served 94 days in prison in 2005.    

 

Mr. O’Donnell possesses fishing rights along the pipeline route which are constitutionally protected and cannot legally be extinguished. He refused Shell’s offers of money to drop his opposition, opting instead to protect his livelihood.

 

[See a clip of Pat standing up to the Solitaire: http://www.thepipethefilm.com]


His jailing followed a series of repeated shorter detentions on minor pretexts throughout 2008 and 2009, while opposing pipe laying work at sea,at times when Shell needed to carry out construction work. Human Rights organisation Frontline found that Mr O'Donnell's boat was detained by Gardaí 'unlawfully' and with 'improper motive' to stop him from opposing Shell's pipe laying in June 2009 [1].  He has also been the target for verbal abuse, threats, beatings and property destruction by Gardaí and private security guards.

 

‘Pat O’Donnell’s imprisonment is just part of an ongoing pattern in Erris. Members of the community who prominently oppose the project, particularly those who make formal complaints about Garda behaviour, have repeatedly been arrested or summonsed on farcical charges such as loitering or traffic offences which collapse when they come to court, only to be followed up by new charges,’ said Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington today. ‘Pat O’Donnell was selected for vexatious arrests, beatings and jailing because he is an example of a person who could not be bullied or bought. The people of Ireland need to ask themselves what the State is afraid of here.’

 

Large numbers are expected at Castlerea Prison, Co. Roscommon at 2 p.m. on Saturday July 17th where the community of Erris and Shell to Sea supporters from around the country will gather to welcome Mr. O’Donnell and to protest against the ongoing imprisonment of Niall Harnett. A cavalcade of cars will then travel back to Erris with Mr. O’Donnell to welcome him home.

 

Pat O’Donnell will available to talk to the media and give interviews at the protest.

 

On Sunday 18th the community will gather for a Street Feast outside McGuire’s pub in Pollathomas, with food and music from 1 p.m. to late. All welcome.

ENDS

FOR VERIFICATION, COMMENT OR MORE INFO, CONTACT:

  • Maura Harrington 087 959 1474
  • Terence Conway 086 086 6264

 

1.Frontline report: 'Breakdown in Trust': http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2474 (see p.51)


2. Pat O’Donnell is a 52 year-old Erris fisherman and prominent Shell to Sea campaigner in Mayo. In the months leading up to his imprisonment he endured a sustained campaign of harassment both from the Gardaí and Shell’s private security firm I-RMS. In the most serious incident in June 2009, four masked men boarded Mr. O’Donnell’s fishing boat, held him and his crewman at gunpoint, and proceeded to sink the boat. Both men were lucky to escape with their lives.


 

3. Shell to Sea is a national campaign with active groups based across Ireland. The Shell to Sea campaign has three main aims. 1) 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. 2) 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. 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, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, estimates the amount of gas and oil in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, to be 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for June 2010 at $75.34 or €59.61, this works out at a value of €596 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.