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Pipeline protestors set to take to big screen

Áine Ryan - Mayo News

THE CONTROVERSIAL Corrib gas story and its impact on the lives of five local protestors may be shown at a number of prestigious film festivals in the coming year.
Directed by 30-year-old Risteard Ó Domhnaill, ‘The Pipe’ focusses its lens on a number of leading activists and protestors who have challenged the project, by various means and on varying levels, through protest, the courts and the planning process.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Risteard Ó Domhnaill revealed that the 90-minute documentary is still at the editing stage but will be ready for submission to some of 2010’s major international festivals, including the Galway Film Fleadh, held each July, and the Toronto Film Festival, held each September.
Mr Ó Domhnaill also hopes to submit the film to next year’s highly-acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, which is held each January at various locations in the US state of Utah. The Irish film, Once, produced by Westport native, Martina Niland, won a major accolade at this renowned festival in January 2007, before going on to receive a coveted Oscar later that year.
Risteard Ó Domhnaill is a freelance news cameraman who regularly works for TG4. A native of Tipperary, he spent much of his childhood summers at his mother’s native home in Inver, where his uncle still farms. He now lives between Galway and north Mayo.
The genesis of ‘The Pipe’, which is supported by the Irish Film Board, was when Ó Domhnaill ‘felt compelled’ to start making the film in October 2006, after covering the unfolding news story for some time.
“It’s a very powerful story but we won’t know until we get to the festivals what the reaction will be like. It is hoped that it will later be shown on Irish and European television screens,” Risteard said.
The film follows farmers Willie and Mary Corduff who have been involved with the protest from the outset. Willie was one of the five men, known as the Rossport Five, jailed in 2005 for  challenging a Compulsory Acquisition Order and breaching an injunction.
It also focuses on local resident, Monica Muller, who is presently involved in an ongoing legal case which has culminated in Shell seeking clarification from the High Court over a district court ruling. The ruling deemed the developer to be in contempt of court over an order forbidding it to enter commonage lands at Rossport. This order has since been vacated.
Pat O’Donnell, known locally as ‘The Chief’ also features. Pat O’Donnell’s boat, the Iona Isle, sank in mysterious circumstances in Broadhaven Bay last summer.
The film also examines the protest campaign of retired national school teacher, Maura Harrington, who has been jailed on several occasions following her protests.
Meanwhile, Shell is currently considering the minutiae of An Bord Pleanála’s request on November 2 last for further information regarding its application for a modified onshore pipeline. The planing board requested that the developer respond by February 5 next.