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Rossport Solidarity Camp: Now Recruiting for 2006

Will Shell's icy heart thaw in the Spring? Will it f@#$!

Rossport Solidarity Camp was born in June of this year. It is the first protest camp around an ecological theme to take place in Ireland for several years.The camp began after local opponents of Shell’s plan to build an unprecedented high pressure gas pipeline through the hamlet of Rossport invited us there to back up their struggle.
The main activities of the campers have been picketing the Rossport compound, building and maintaining the camp, and helping the families of the prisoners.
The campaign has won significant victories:

  • June 18th onwards there have been no deliveries of construction materials to the compound at Rossport.
  • June 30th onwards pickets closed the Rossport compound and the http: newswire.php?story_id="70662''">refinery construction site at Ballinaboy.
  • In August Shell was forced to cancel the arrival of the Solitaire, one of the world’s largest pipelaying ships, due to a planned blockade by fishermen.
  • On September 30th the Rossport Five were released, because of popular pressure.

In Spring we are into a new “construction season” when Shell again will try to build this pipeline and refinery, and we need to get the maximum number of people on the ground in Mayo ready to help stop this. Bear in mind most of this development was supposed to be built this year.
In March Rossport Solidarity Camp will be re-launched for the 2006 “construction season” - late Spring, Summer, early Autumn. From March onwards we are looking for more people to come to the camp, be it for 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months. All are welcome, you don’t need to be an “expert”, everyone can take part in this, most people who have been on the camp have had as their previous sum total of camping experience the occasional trip to the likes of Witness. Many also have had no previous experience of campaigning
Older Camp Stories:

  • http: newswire.php?story_id="71391''">The Rossport Solidarity Camp
  • http: newswire.php?story_id="72121''">Photos from a Summer of Resistance in Erris
  • http: newswire.php?story_id="71079''">A Few Days of Struggle in North West Mayo
  • http: newswire.php?story_id="71717''">Rossport Solidarity Camp
  • http: newswire.php?story_id="70411''">Shell bus blockaded in Glengad

The Story So Far…..Rossport Solidarity Camp was established in the middle of June this year, at the request of local residents, including those subsequently imprisoned. It was born out of http: newswire.php?story_id="70173''"> Solidarity Gathering held in Rossport on the first weekend in June. That weekend over two hundred people, from every corner of the island and beyond, gathered in Rossport to learn about the issues first hand.As one of the organisers of that Gathering I had initially envisaged developing out of it a national network to support the community struggle in Rossport with pickets of petrol stations, protests and such like around the country. The idea for the camp came more from the locals. Personally I was somewhat hesitant about the camp, partly from the point of view that it is somewhat difficult to get people to such an out of the way place, all protest camps in Ireland previously, to my knowledge, have been near major cities. But mostly that hesitancy was down to the fear that the inception of the camp would launch a “eco-warriors live in bog” feeding frenzy in the media, fortunately very little of that has happened. Such a perception would not be conducive to promoting the idea that people can take power over their lives into their own hands without the intercession of politicians, lawyers or professional activists. That being the very idea we need to spread should we wish to see radical social change. We got the call to return to Rossport on June 18th, after residents had begun a particular action.This action related to the virtual absence of a traffic management plan for Rossport, despite the fact that Shell aimed to put 60 to 70 trucks a day on a narrow country lane. Basically if you are driving up that wee road, going from your house into town to do the shopping or pick up the kids from the train station, and you meet a lorry carrying pipeline to build a unprecedented high-pressure pipeline next to your house, then you have to turn around and leave the road, that road being too narrow for both cars and the Shell lorries. This despite the fact you have right of way. So began a lot of car parking, and a 12 day, 24 hours a day, http: newswire.php?story_id="70426''">vigil by the roadside, as Shell couldn’t remove the lorry the road being too narrow for it to pass parked cars. Ordinary traffic could continue as normal. At this stage there were only 3 or 4 “campers”, who were actually staying in a house. Some days before this Shell made an attempt to access the farmlands adjoining peoples’ houses, having been http: newswire.php?story_id="70289''">refused access, on the basis, later shown to be correct, that they didn’t have ministerial permission. They then sought, and were later to be granted, the imprisonment of five men from among those who refused them entry, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath and Michael O’Suighin.In a short space of time, and in a fairly ad-hoc, spontaneous and improvised manner, the camp was to get ready to respond to these imminent jailings. Cooking equipment and experience came from the Bitchin’ Kitchen Collective, who were to be at festivals and protests around Europe, but fortunately didn’t get much further than a field in Mayo, a marquee was donated by Dissent, one of the groups organising the G-8 protests in Scotland, some tents were borrowed from here and there, some bodies came from NUI Galway Ecology Society, some from environmentalist group Gluaiseacht. All this was put together early in July, on Philip McGrath’s land and right on the supposed pipeline route. A further camp, or more of an off-host from the main camp, was set up on the other side of the estuary from Rossport, in Glengad, where the supposed land fall for the off-shore pipeline is to be. From June 30th the main activity of the camp has been picketing the construction compound in Rossport. This is done from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, with two people on three hour shifts keeping watch. No work has been done in this compound since then.For two months there was a round the clock Garda presence there as well, but this has recently ceased. Weekday numbers at the camp have ranged from 3 to 30, with about a dozen being typical. The camp is organised through nightly meetings, wherein each participant has equal voice, these meetings allot tasks for the next day, and formulate policy for the day to day running of the camp.At the end of August Rossport Solidarity Camp organised the http: newswire.php?story_id="71823''">solidarity week, culminating in the http: newswire.php?story_id="72122''">Tenth Grassroots Gathering. A lot of people from England travelled over to join the camp at this time.The solidarity week featured a social night for campers and residents, some workshops, a Rossport Five http: newswire.php?story_id="72104''">street theatre in Castlebar, and a blockade of a Statoil depot in Ballina.At the Tenth Grassroots Gathering there were speakers from, or speaking about, Derrybrien Development Society, the Woodland League, Galway for a Safe Environment, Gorleben anti-nuclear protest camp, anti-pylon groups from Roscommon and Donegal and the campaign against Merrill Dow in Cork in the late 80’s. There were also skills share workshops. Over one hundred people attended the Gathering that weekend, with Rossport Solidarity Camp briefly blossoming into three camps on the pipeline route. Recently the camp disbanded as a camp, but a number of campers are staying in Erris over the winter to prepare for the new years’ new construction season, starting next March.Shell have been prevented from doing any work on their pipeline this summer, most work they cannot do over the winter due to the climate, so our main goal now has to be to get more people to the camp next spring.We aim to make the camp much bigger next time around. Rossport Solidarity Camp is now recruiting for the 2006 construction season. The camp needs people to come for 3 days or 3 months. It doesn’t just need experts, though they come in handy, everyone can take part in this, most people who have been on the camp have had as their previous sum total of camping experience the occasional trip to the likes of Witness. Many also have had no previous experience of campaigning. The only requirements are passion, a sense of justice, and a commitment to see shell to sea.Why?Solidarity does not mean helping, solidarity means fighting alongside someone because their struggle is your struggle.What is being done in Erris is the suppression of human needs (health, safety, sustainable environment) in favour of capital. Furthermore the deal for the exploitation of our natural resources, with its low tax rate, privileges the profits of big business over working class needs (e.g. for an efficient health service).This is the same as http: newswire.php?story_id="72319''">Irish Ferries, as http: newswire.php?story_id="69722''">GAMA, as the proposed construction of incinerators in http: newswire.php?story_id="71766''">Ringaskiddy, as http: newswire.php?story_id="72260''">homelessness amid a Celtic Tiger, and ultimately the same spending all week working for someone else, receiving back a fraction of the wealth you have created, while your environment goes down the tubes in a process you have no control over. In the Rossport case the state, in the form of the courts, facilitates the private interests controlling our natural resources off the Irish coast, just as those courts defend the military use of Shannon, and hence facilitate the private interests controlling our natural resources in the Middle East. The state exists to serve capital.From an ecological perspective Erris is everywhere. While one set of corporations and one state seek to tear up Broadhaven Bay and the lives of the people who live by there, they are just one part of a social system doing the same to the whole of the planet and its inhabitants. For just one example consider Greenpeace International’s description of the imminent affects of global warming: “Imagine a world in which 17 million people are fleeing sea-rise in Bangladesh. A world in which villages that rely on glacial melt for their water supplies become ghost towns as the last of the ice disappears. A world in which polar bears are extinct in the wild. A world in which entire seaside economies and livelihoods are wiped out by a rise in sea level that is measured in meters. Now imagine that aspects of this world could be upon us within the lifetimes of children being born today -- and in some scenarios, in our own lifetimes.”Even if this were just about Shell it still would be an international struggle, as communities battle that corporation in Louisiana, in South Africa, in the far-east of Russia, and many other places.In Louisiana where such was the impact of ill-health and disease on people living near a Shell refinery that the community fought for their own re-location away from it.In South Africa where a Shell refinery dumps 19 tons of sulphur dioxide a day into the air people breath, producing chronic asthma among children.But it is not just about Shell. In Rossport Solidarity Camp we are fighting alongside
the working people of Bolivia as they try to gain the profits of that country’s gas industry, alongside Chinese villagers rioting against polluting factories, alongside any fight against capital and the state anywhere. Rossport Solidarity Camp is organised on a day to day basis through nightly meetings in which each person has an equal voice, these meetings formulate policy and allot tasks. The fact we organise this way and are in Rossport is not an accident. We are in Rossport because we believe that what happens in peoples’ lives should be decided collectively by the people affected, not imposed from above by hierarchal institutions be they headquartered in Castlebar, Dublin, London, Holland or Norway. We organise this way now because this is the way we want to see the world organised, and because we believe like begets like, and you cannot proceed to freedom through un-freedom. What Next?At the moment we are concentrating on preparing for next year; which means gathering construction materialspallets, hazel branches, tarpaulin, etc…; developing necessary skills, be it in building or media work; fundraising; and publicising the camp. Participants in Rossport Solidarity Camp are about to embark on speaking tours of Ireland and Britain (parts of the continent are pencilled in for the future).Should you want to organise a public meeting as part of this contact (for Britain) or (for Ireland).Details of the Irish part of the tour are to follow. Here are the details of the first leg of the British part:Manchester:Thursday November 3rd 7.30pm, the Basement, 24 Lever Street, hosted by the Anarchist Federation.Lancaster:Friday November 4th to Sunday November 6th , participants in Rossport Solidarity Camp will be delivering a paper to the conference ‘Making Global Civil Society: Grassroots Practise and Academic Theory of Globalisation from Below’, which is happening at Lancaster University. London:Tuesday November 8th 7.30 pm Autonomy Club, Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High street, London E1 (nearest tube Aldgate East), hosted by the Anarchist Federation. Oxford:November 9th 7pm, Oxford Action Resource Centre.Nottingham:November 10th 7pm, International Community Center,61b Mansfield Rd. London: Saturday 12th November, 7pm to 3am, RampArts social center ( which is a non-hierarchical, autonomous space that was squatted in May 2004, situated in the Whitechapel area, East End of London. There will also be benefit gig for the campaign with food & drink + music.Newcastle:Monday 14th November, 7.30pm, Tyneside Irish Centre, hosted by Why Don’t You? London:Thursday Nov 17th 7.30pm, London Action Resource Centre ( hosted by London Rising Tide.Some Links to Reports and Analysis of other Ecological Struggles:Revolutionary Ecology Class Struggle Hits the RoadCarnsore: Why Ireland Never Got Nuclear PowerThe Siege of GorlebenBritons against Plogoff Nuclear Power PlantThe Politics of Anti-Road Struggle and the Struggles of Anti-Road PoliticsAuto-Struggles: The Developing War Against the Road MonsterGrassroots Environmentalism and Strategies for Social ChangeDumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality http: publishcomments.php?story_id="72740''">add your comments
COMMENTS http: newswire.php?story_id="72740&comment_order=asc&save_prefs=true#comments''">show latest comments first http: newswire.php?story_id="72740&condense_comments=true&save_prefs=true#comments''">show comment titles only jump to comment http: newswire.php?story_id="72740&condense_comments=false#comment126319''">1
GREAT NEWS!!! by Supporter Tuesday, Nov 1 2005, 4:15pm
I have just returned from several months overseas and have met people from various countries (Norway, Germany, Australia, U.S..) that are committed to arriving in Rossport in the early Spring.Many of these people are trained in Non-Violent Direct Action and have been part of winning campaigns in their own communities.In fact, one guy from Germany will be coming to Ireland soon to do NVDA training throughout Ireland and will follow this up with outreach and recruitment meetings back in Germany after Christmas.YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET!!!!

Posted Date: 
1 November 2005 - 4:19pm