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Rossport Five to lead San Francisco parade

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 By: Orla HearnsTHE Rossport Five has been invited to participate in San Francisco’s St Patrick’s Day parade later this week.Two of the men, Mr Micheal O’Seighin and Mr Vincent McGrath, told the Western People that they are departing for the “city by the bay” tomorrow, Wednesday, March 8 and will lead the city’s parade as honorary Grand Marshals on Sunday next, March 12.The fact that the men spent 94 days in Cloverhill prison last year for breaching a temporary High Court injunction preventing them from interfering with work by Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL)on the controversial onshore Corrib gas pipeline is not expected to create difficulties for them when they encounter US emigration authorities at San Francisco International Airport.Due to time constraints the men have not secured American visas for the trip. Mr O’Seighin said that there had been a “slight worry” that the authorities might stop them at San Francisco airport. However, the Irish authorities have assured them that they should not encounter any difficulties on their travels.Mr McGrath pointed out that the incarceration of the Rossport Five had related to civil court proceedings. The two men will be travelling to the US on their own passports which do not record any criminal convictions or arrests for either.The Rossport Five were invited to send representatives to participate in the San Francisco St Patrick’s Day Parade by the event organisers, The United Irish Societies of San Francisco; an organisatuon dedicated to preserving and perpetuating “the democratic principles of the Irish people, and of those for the freedom of Ireland and of the United States of America”.Mr O’Seighin said the Rossport 5 had no direct connection with the United Irish Societies of San Francisco. The Society’s 40 member organisations had voted unanimously to invite the Rossport Five to be honorary Grand Marshals of the parade. He said: “This has no implications.It is just a recognition of our stand. There is no politics involved. It is just straight forward community recognition. We are delighted. This can only help our campaign and what we stand for, which is safety.”“It is an honour to have been chosen,” Vincent McGrath agreed. “I’m sure there are so many people over there who have been working for the Irish community all of their lives. This is recognition that word of our campaign has gone so far abroad.”A further indication of the campaign’s profile has been the growing number of coach tours to Rossport and the Shell-to-Sea solidarity camp. Mr McGrath revealed that a coachload of US third level conflict resolution students had recently visited Rossport. Yesterday, Monday, March 6, he accompanied English students on a tour of the pipeline route.This is Mr O’Seigin’s first time to travel to America. He will be accompanied by his son and daughter. During their week long trip the men plan to meet with many of the city’s cultural organisations and to investigate some of the headline environmental issues in the state of California.In addition to be being honorary Grand Marshals at the parade the men will also attend and possibly address the annual Grand Marshal’s Ball in San Francisco on Friday night, March 10.This event will also be attended by the Mayor of San Francisco and an Irish Government Minister. At the time of going to print the identity of that Minister had yet to be confirmed. “We are aware that we will be ambassadors and that we will represent our people,” Mr McGrath remarked.The Rossport Five have been advised of a further adjournment of their next High Court appearance. President of the High Court Mr Justice Finnegan was to deliver his decision on whether the men should be punished for breaching the injunction on Monday, March 20 next. This has now been adjourned to Monday, March 27.A fundraising dance for the Rossport Five legal fund will be held in the Galtymore Ballroom, Cricklewood, London on Sunday 19th March. Music is by Mick Flavin and the Duets. Tickets cost £7.50 stg. and can be got by contacting the following numbers: 0208 907 3062 or 0208 205 3615. Admission at door is £10.00 Stg.

Posted Date: 
7 March 2006 - 11:44pm