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Irish Times: Rossport protesters end walk in Dublin

By: Ali Bracken, Irish Times
Published: Aug 14, 2006

Opponents of the Corrib gas project completed their 300-kilometre “long walk” from Rossport, Co Mayo, to Dublin on Saturday and were welcomed at their journey’s end by Lord Mayor of Dublin Vincent Jackson.

The group left Rossport last month to highlight issues relating to the 900 million Corrib gas project. They were joined at stages by some of the five men jailed last year over their opposition to the Corrib onshore pipeline and were accompanied throughout by the Shell to Sea campaign trailer.

Mr Jackson met the group at Kilmainham Jail in a “personal capacity”. Nine men and women walked the entire distance, while hundreds more joined in at different points to show support, according to organisers.

Describing their journey as “epic”, Mr Jackson said he supported their cause because “guarantees on safety have still not been met . . . Sometimes might isn’t always right.”

A group of about 200 people gathered to greet the group from Rossport. The trek took 12 days and group leader John Monaghan said they had received “phenomenal support” from people they met along the way. “In Roscommon, we were called into a house for tea and biscuits and other people offered to put us up for the night,” he said.

Mr Monaghan added that the Shell to Sea campaign was determined to continue. “We’re refusing to accept an onshore gas refinery. The project needs to be reconfigured. They have changed nothing, so our stance has to be the same.”

After meeting Mr Jackson at Kilmainham, the group continued on to the GPO on O’Connell Street, where Micheal O SeighIn, one of the five men imprisoned for 94 days last year for their opposition to the pipeline, gave a brief oration in Irish and English. “Justice will be ours for we will overcome. The people have spoken and risen,” he said. “We are the people. We reclaim our country.”

Mr Monaghan said that taking part in the walk had been a “privilege and a pleasure”. They had walked 215 miles “every one was worth every step”. The group travelled from the Erris peninsula through Mayo, Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath and Kildare before reaching Dublin. Inspiration for the walk had come from various sources, including Mahatma Gandhi and the eviction of the Davitt family in Straide, Co Mayo, in the 1850s.

Shell E&P Ireland hopes to resume work at the Bellanaboy gas terminal next month before reaching any agreement on a modified route for the controversial pipeline. The Shell to Sea campaign intends to maintain its pickets at the terminal site.

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