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Irish Times: High Court appearance for Rossport Five

Irish Times: High Court appearance for Rossport Five

“The five Co Mayo men, who have been in prison for 71 days for contempt of court relating to the Shell Corrib gas pipeline…”

Thursday Sept 08, 2005

Ray Managh

The five Co Mayo men, who have been in prison for 71 days for contempt of court relating to the Shell Corrib gas pipeline, made a brief appearance in the High Court yesterday.

Although nothing of legal significance took place in court yesterday, the men were permitted to meet with family members and friends in the time between the two-minute hearing and their return to jail.

During their two-hour stay in the courts complex, the five men mixed with relatives in the Round Hall of the Four Courts before being taken back to their cells in a prison bus to Cloverhill Prison.

Their legal team, led by John Rogers SC, had planned to make an application for discovery of documentation in preparation for a full hearing in October but the matter was adjourned until October 4th, when it will be heard by High Court President Mr Justice Joe Finnegan.

Mr Rogers said the application would take a half day at least and should be adjourned out of the busy vacation sittings.

It was Mr Justice John MacMenamin who sent the men, now known as the Rossport Five, to prison 71 days ago for breaching a court injunction restraining them from interfering in any way with the Co Mayo Shell Corrib gas pipeline.

The men are still in prison, having failed to purge their contempt before the High Court.

It was learned afterwards that they are unlikely to purge their contempt until after determination of all legal issues before the court. To do so now would mean almost certainly wiping out their defence to the proceedings.

As they waited for Ms Justice Mary Laffoy to take her seat on the bench in court yesterday, the men talked and joked in court with family members and friends and some were shown photographs of recent family occasions at home.

Later, prison officers allowed them to mix with family members and friends in the Round Hall as they waited for transport back to prison.

While there have been attempts to resolve the impasse by both the Government and Shell E&P Ltd, Mr Justice Finnegan has in the past made it clear that the men will have to purge their contempt before he deals with any application from them for release.

The men – Micheal O Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff, Philip McGrath and James Philbin – were jailed indefinitely 71 days ago for obstructing work on the controversial Co Mayo gas pipeline.

They claim the high-pressure pipe near their homes could explode.

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