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Irish Independent: Back to jail after ‘Rossport 5’ again fail to purge contempt

Irish Independent: Back to jail after ‘Rossport 5’ again fail to purge contempt

“Earlier, Mr Rogers described as “an audacious suggestion” the terms of a letter from Shell which was opened in court and stated by the company as maybe providing an opportunity for the protesters to purge their contempt.”

Tuesday 26 July 2005

HOPES that five men jailed amid the dispute over Shell’s Co Mayo pipeline could be released were dashed yesterday.

The ‘Rossport Five’ – who have now been in prison for 27 days – were again returned to prison after failing to purge their contempt at the High Court.

Their supporters had hoped that revelations that the oil company had welded together at least 3km of pipeline without Government consent would help break the deadlock over their imprisonment.

But President of the High Court, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, said that if those in prison wanted to make any application in respect of which he had a discretion, they could do so when they purged their contempt.

To cheers from dozens of relatives and supporters after the hearing, Willie Corduff, James Philbin, Vincent and Philip McGrath and Micheal O Seighin were led to a waiting prison service which returned them to Cloverhill Prison.

And once again, a mass of photographers and journalists outside the Four Courts had huddled around the men’s relatives who insisted that their loved ones would “continue the fight”.

In court, there had been gasps and loud sighs when Mr Justice Finnegan said that it was not acceptable to him that persons who were in contempt should seek assistance from the court.

At the weekend, Marine and Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey asked the company to explain why certain works at the site had been carried out without Government consent.

Mr Dempsey is today expected to receive a response from Shell Ireland chairman Andy Pyle giving details of the dates and work involved and admitting that there may have been what the company described as a “technical breach” of obligations.

The company will today also begin a series of meetings with the main sub-contractors and some employee representatives engaged on the Corrib pipeline to update them on the situation, and news on possible delays to the work.

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