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10,000 to march in support of jailed pipeline protesters

Anger is mounting over the jailing of five landowners who have been in prison for nearly 100 days for objecting to Shell building a pipeline through one of the last European -wildernesses.
The case of the Rossport Five, a group of small-time farmers from Co Mayo, has become an international cause célèbre and resulted in widespread criticism of the oil company and the Irish government.
This week, 10,000 people will arrive in Dublin for a rally in support of the men while the issue is set to dominate the Irish parliament when it returns from its summer break on Wednesday.
Michael O'Seighin, a renowned exponent of traditional Irish singing, Vincent McGrath, a retired teacher, his brother Philip, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin were jailed for breaching an injunction preventing locals from blocking Shell Ireland's vehicles involved in the building of the pipeline through a peat bog on the west coast.
The men, two of whom are in their sixties, broke the injunction by challenging workers marking out the pipeline through Rossport field.
The Shell employees were told they would not be allowed on to the field unless they produced documentary evidence to prove the pipeline had consent and was safe.
The five have been confined in Cloverhill Prison indefinitely for contempt of court. They will be released if they purge their contempt by agreeing not to interfere in the project.
''It's crazy,'' said Mr Corduff's wife, Mary. ''The whole thing should never have happened. The only way this can be sorted is by Shell lifting the injunction. Shell has always said that they want to be good neighbours but good neighbours don't jail their neighbours.''
The men object to the pipeline carrying untreated gas from the coast to a refinery six miles inland at Bellanaboy, because they believe it would be dangerous. Shell is seeking to exploit the Corrib gas field off north Mayo.
The five have argued that the pipeline was designed to pressures about four times as high as a normal gas supply line. They also say that untreated gas is more dangerous than refined gas. Shell has maintained that high safety standards have been met.
The Shell to Sea campaign launched to support the Rossport Five has organised a series of protests in towns across Ireland that will culminate in Dublin on Saturday.
Opponents of the scheme have demanded that the Shell terminal is relocated 46 miles off shore, a move that has been rejected on cost grounds.
A Shell spokesman said: ''It is very regrettable that they are in jail. We don't want them in jail. We want to proceed with the project but we've suspended all work to create a period of dialogue and calm.'' http:>

Posted Date: 
24 September 2005 - 7:42pm