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18/08/05 Appeal to the people of Norway by The Rossport Five

An appeal to the people of Norway by The Rossport Five
We have now been in prison for 50 days for refusing to allow Statoil, Shell and their Irish Government partners access build a pipeline close to our family homes. We have refused access because of the certainty that if this pipeline ruptures, we, our families and our neighbours will die.
What would you do if you were ordered by the courts to accept the installation of a potentially lethal pipeline which none of the government safety departments will take responsibility for?
We are in prison for an indefinite time until we accept such a pipeline. We cannot and will not. We are proud of our coastline and our clean environment and wish to preserve it as the people of Norway have so successfully preserved yours. Would the people of Norway accept a potentially lethal, Statoil-sponsored pipeline along Karl Johans Gate or through the fjords of Oslo or Stavanger? A pipeline which has a rupture kill zone of several hundred metres? We think not.
Our imprisonment was only made possible by the granting of a compulsory purchase order for our lands to Statoil and Shell by our former Minister for Marine and Natural Resources. Without that order we would be free men today, at home with our families. Instead we are confined in prison cells.
Do Statoil and the Norwegian people really want to associate themselves with this kind of intimidation against local people defending their rights and their environment? Imprisoning men for defending their own land is a brutal breach of our human rights.
Norway has benefited greatly from the exploitation of its natural resources in a safe and sustainable fashion. Income from the oil and gas fields supports a health and education system which is the most progressive in the world and the standard of living of its citizens has improved greatly as a result.
When we heard initially of the Corrib gas find we were jubilant and excited for county Mayo and for Ireland. When we learned that the route of the pipeline would go through Rossport we became concerned and as we looked closer and sought advice we became alarmed. We instinctively sought reassurance and support from state agencies and our local politicians. We were initially put off, then ignored and finally marginalized. As our awareness of the lethal danger to our families grew, our concerns turned into resistance.
To date the dealings of the Irish government in this project have seen our traditional land rights given to a private company, our families and neighbours lives are endangered and the natural resources of the Irish people given away to multinationals. The Norwegian people, through your state oil company Statoil holding 38% of the Corrib Field, will receive more from this project than the Irish people who have a 0% holding. In addition the government has provided 400 acres of publicly-owned land and committed the Irish people to finance a gas pipe from Mayo to Galway to facilitate the outward transport of gas to the UK and Europe.
Despite all of this we acknowledge the attempts of Statoil, Shell and their government partners to create a period of calm by halting all work on the project in north Mayo and their call for dialogue. We wish to immediately accept this offer and enter into talks to resolve the impasse. To that end we ask Statoil, Shell and their government partners to immediately stand down their injunction to allow us to leave prison to attend these talks.
The people of Ireland have sustained us during this time of crisis and personal trauma and have rallied and continue to rally to our aid. All we demand is for our families and neighbours to be safe in their own homes - no more no less.
Shell to Sea, an international network formed to resist this development, is holding a major blockade of Shell's main depot in Dublin on 10 September and is calling on people across the world to join in protests on this day. We are especially calling on trade unionists, environmentalists and the Norwegian people to support us and to lobby the Norwegian government to exercise its influence within the consortium and to demand our immediate release and the safe and sustainable exploitation of our natural resources offshore.
The Rossport Five18 August 2005
Micheál Ó SeighinWillie CorduffBrendan PhilbinVincent McGrathPhilip McGrath
Cloverhill Prison, Dublin, Ireland

Posted Date: 
21 August 2006 - 1:08am