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Support fossil industry prisoner Pat O'Donnell

Bristling Badger

Shell have been planning to drill gas fields off the Western Irish coast at Rossport, County Mayo. There has been a concerted campaign against them, including comprehensive and relentless local opposition bolstered by campaigners from further afield.

This is about transnational corporations getting governments to give them rights to resources, whilst those same corporations ride roughshod over local communities. It's about the local impacts and dangers of building the gas pipeline. It's about the lunacy of drilling more fossil fuels as climate change takes hold. If you have any ability to understand injustice, you will see it plainly at Rossport.

Two weeks ago Pat O'Donnell, a local fisherman, was jailed for seven months for charges resulting from his resistance to Shell's gas project. Pat has been one of the most active opponents of the project, and his actions over the last few years have made him a major obstacle for Shell.

As well as being an amazing campaigner, he's also respected and admired by locals - who nicknamed him 'The Chief' - as well as visiting campaigners who talk of the lengths he goes to in order to ensure visitors feel welcomed and at home.

Niall Harnett details it further

    Pat O'Donnell was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment on a charge of a 'breach of the peace' and 4 months imprisonment for 'obstructing a Garda'. Judge Raymond Groarke ordered that the sentences be run consecutively. As a result Pat will serve 7 months in custody at Castlerea Prison, Castlerea, Co Roscommon. These were two separate incidents involving the Gardaí at a time of high tension surrounding Maura's hunger strike at Glengad in September 2008, that gave rise to the charges against Pat...

    Pat has stood up to Shell since the Erris Inshore Fisherman's Association united in 2005 to oppose offshore pipelaying in Broadhaven Bay. Regrettably, Shell paid off the fishermen over the course of the last few years. Pat refused any pay-off by Shell, including an offer of 300,000 Euro in 2009. Yes... Three Hundred Thousand Euro.

    Pat and his son Johnathan have been arrested while fishing in their boats and detained in custody, with no charges arising, on different occasions while Shell boats tore their fishing gear from their moorings at sea. Pat has been singled out along with his brothers for assault by Gardaí at Bellanaboy and been punched in the face sustaining facial injuries and broken teeth.

    In the early morning of June 11th 2009, as the pipe-laying ship the Solitaire prepared to steam to Broadhaven Bay, Pat's fishing boat was boarded by 4 masked men, 2 of whom held him and his crewman Martin McDonnell at gunpoint in the wheelhouse while the 2 others went down to the engine room to scuttle the boat. The boat sank to ocean floor while Pat and Martin had to be rescued from their lifeboat.

It doesn't take a supersleuth to work out who the gunmen were working for. Of course, while Pat languishes in jail, nobody has been charged with the attack on him and sinking of his boat.

Please take the time to write to Pat in prison:

Pat O’Donnell,
Castlerea Prison,
Co. Roscommon
Republic of Ireland

Prison is boring. It is designed to be so; it is an institution intended to break the human spirit. Getting the mail is, for many prisoners, the highlight of the day. A card or letter is proof that there are people who care. Descriptions and pictures of things outside inspire dreams and hope. Even just a postcard is something that takes you one minute yet will be looked at over and over and make the prisoner know they're supported.

As with writing to any political prisoners, don’t think that just because you don’t personally know Pat you don’t have anything to say. You can write not only about why his cause matters to you, but about whatever it is you do.

Remember that all mail will be read by the authorities, so don’t put anything that’d incriminate anyone.

Be sure to put a sender’s address on the back of the envelope; it gives the screws less excuse to stop your letter getting through.

You don't need a prisoner number or anything; stuff mailed to the address above will reach Pat. You can send zines, books, magazines, new and second hand CDs (so long as they originals, not home burnt); nothing has to be direct from a publisher/amazon-style supplier.

If climate change, the fossil fuel industry or local autonomy bother you at all, write to Pat.