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Western People: A national disgrace

Western People: A national disgrace

“Shell E&P Ireland may yet return to the High Court to have more Rossport residents jailed for breaching an injunction. Speculation is mounting as to whether the women of Rossport will be next to go behind bars.”

Posted Monday 11 July 2005

By: Orla Hearns

Shell E&P Ireland may yet return to the High Court to have more Rossport residents jailed for breaching an injunction. Speculation is mounting as to whether the women of Rossport will be next to go behind bars.

As the ‘Rossport Five’ – Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff, Vincent McGrath, James Brendan Philbin and Micheál O Seighin – near the end of their first week at Cloverhill Prison for refusing Shell access to their lands, their wives say they too are willing to go to jail in a bid to stop the construction of the gas pipeline through their lands at Rossport.

Work on the Corrib project was brought to a total standstill yesterday (Monday) as farmers came from as far away as Kerry to show their solidarity with the Rossport Five. A large crowd – numbering several hundred – gathered outside the terminal site at Bellanaboy at 10 a.m. and remained in the vicinity for the rest of the day.

Shell E&P Ireland confirmed that the event did cause obstruction and disruption to its business yesterday and warned that this “type” of protest was totally unwarranted.

Those present at the protest reported that a Garda Inspector spoke with a Shell representative at Bellanaboy. When he returned he asked the crowd whether they intended to continue their protest. They shouted “yes”.

On being assured that the crowd had no intention of causing civil disturbance, the Inspector said the gardaí would continue to maintain a small presence at the site.

It is reported that the terminal site gates were shut from 10.00am and that no trucks transported peat from the site thereafter.

At the time of going to print the protestors were understood to be contemplating remaining on site 24-hours per day. Fishermen from Donegal and Galway are also expected to show their support for the Rossport Five later to-day (Tuesday) when a flotilla of boats enters Broadhaven Bay.

Meanwhile confusion prevails as to whether the five men will appear in the High Court again tomorrow (Wednesday).

Earlier this week it was reported that solicitor, Greg Casey, would seek to challenge the validity of the original injunction granted to Shell in relation to the Rossport lands. Rossport landowner Brid McGarry stated that Mr Casey was not representing the five men.

The wives of two of the men, Caitlin Ni Seighin and Mary Corduff, told the Western People last night, Monday, July 4, that they did not know what, if anything, was going to happen on Wednesday.

Ms Corduff stressed that her husband and the other four men remain adamant in their stance. The men are determined to have the pipeline development stopped and will not permit anyone to negotiate “short term” for the sake of having them released from prison.

Shell insists that it does not have any plans at present to have others committed to jail: “We are more concerned about resolving this issue than sending people to jail,” a spokesperson stated.

While the company says its wish is to sit down and discuss matters with those concerned it has stated that it will have to consider all options open to it if people continue to obstruct its work at Rossport.

“That would include going to the courts,” the spokesman said. “But that is not something that is being considered at the moment.”

But Ms McGarry says documents that were brought to her attention prove that public relations concern was the only reason that prevented the company from having all of the objecting Rossport landowners served with committal papers.

“I don’t want to go to jail but I also violated the order about the land issue and I was not served with attachment or committal proceedings like the men were,” she told the Western People.

“I’m not the only woman who could face prison. All of the men’s wives are intent on stopping this and are willing to go to jail. If Shell continues to pursue this line there will be the most devastating consequences for the people on the ground.

“This whole situation is just a reflection of the inadequacies of our Government. What we have to do now is try to get this issue out into the international arena.”

Locals have again urged Shell to reconsider the pipeline route from the gas well to the onshore terminal. Routing the pipe through Sruwaddacon Bay rather than across the Rossport lands was a preferred option for many.

However Shell has stressed that the project has been seven years in the offing. The current route was the best available and the company would not be revisiting the issue.

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