From: Terry, Rossport Solidarity Camp
Date: Oct 1, 2006 5:43 PM
Subject: [dublinshelltosea] Current Situation
Since Monday the 11th of September we have been on a heightened state of alert in Erris.
At most crucial moments this has involved people staying up all night to keep watch on the gates of the one-time refinery construction site in Ballinaboy, and the picket there starting up at between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. instead of between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m, with numbers at around one hundred rather than the usual half a dozen.
The situation is not that they are not trying to get in. Each day they are being stopped.
You can be sure that numbers at the picket are being checked each day and that various means are being employed to lessen this mobilisation, such as smear stories in the media, an increased police presence, intimidatory intelligence gathering, extra security guards.
This is a test of determination and resilience. The sub-contractors have been mobilised to be ready to enter the site. This is an attack, for the most part not very spectacular, but very real nonetheless.
We have got word – from a reliable person – that they are to draft in more police from around the country (this is the story on October the First).
This may, or more likely may not, be spectacular – more likely it is another way of applying a bit more pressure on the front lines at Ballinaboy.
We need to ratchet up our pressure. Suitable sites for protest include state offices, Shell and Statoil businesses, sub-contractor installations.
Their currently published schedule had them doing preparatory civil engineering works and water treatment from September onwards; peat removal in spring 2007; and full-scale refinery construction in mid July 2007.
One analysis is that it is crucial for them to sort out the water-logged, almost lake-like mess the site has become, which is only going to become worse as winter beckons, hence the current push.
Unless the other side is grossly stupid we cannot rely on them handing to us again the sort of propaganda victory that the imprisonment of the Rossport Five was last year.
Maybe they are grossly stupid but I wouldn’t want to rely on it.
Likewise, from the point of view of media coverage – apart from local rags and the Irish Times – we were only on TV and in the papers last week because the media were invited there by Shell. This was presumably in the hope that a few slaps would be landed on what are apparently the only unemployed construction workers in Ireland.
Don’t count on this becoming a big thing in the media again (it is after all owned by the enemy).
So far solidarity actions have included the picketing of 3 sites in Dublin, and one in Galway, and one in Cork, and a stall in Ennis.
We need both to keep this up, and add many more places to this list.
There is a constant stream of community based environmental protests, usually on a far smaller scale than the battle in north Mayo. Victory in Erris will be a beacon of light to those currently occurring, and to those in the future, and will impart across the country the message resistance works.
The extent to which the struggle in north Mayo can or cannot be isolated is a crucial decider of victory. Protests in Cork or London or Belfast or Dublin will make a difference.
Obviously it is no use burning out the small number of activists that keep the Shell to Sea groups going, but this is a good time to draw on our respective parties and networks to build up a big mobilisation again.
It should be remembered that the mobilisation existing in 2005 was not based on a public mood, as was the case with anti-war activity in 2003, so much as upon political activists of one stripe or another.
The fact is given the nature and profile of this campaign and the possibility of victory a few hours spent on Shell to Sea activity is likely to reap more benefits in terms of contributing to long-term social change than similar effort spent on any other activity.
Furthermore, given the existence of further gas and indeed oil off the West coast, this could all be the start of something far bigger than we had previously imagined.
Terry (Rossport Solidarity Camp)