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Irish Independent: Big garda presence clears way for work on pipeline to resume

Published: Oct 04, 2006

A LARGE contingent of gardai will again be on duty in north Mayo this morning to ensure construction workers can enter the controversial Shell terminal for the Corrib Gas pipeline.

Up to 170 gardai were drafted into the Bellanaboy area early yesterday morning to make sure work at the 200m site could resume after a delay of more than a year.

The project was halted in early summer last year after the jailing of the Rossport Five over their continued protest at the pipeline and terminal over health and safety concerns.

Blocked

Workers from main contractor Roadbridge Ltd attempted to resume work at the site last week but were prevented by local people who blocked the entrance.

With a renewed attempt due to be made yesterday morning, protesters were again back at the gates of the Bellanaboy terminal from midnight. About 60 protesters took up position on the roadway leading into the terminal and began reciting the Rosary in Irish when approached by local Supt Joseph Gannon shortly before 7am.

When they refused to move, they were individually removed by the large force of gardai. Among the first to be taken behind specially erected crash barriers was veteran campaigner against the project, Maire Harrington.

Two of the Rossport Five, Micheal O Seighin and Vincent McGrath, were also removed as was Mary Corduff, wife of Willie Corduff, another of the Five to be jailed last year.

One young woman sustained a minor injury and became distressed while being removed. She was taken to hospital by ambulance after receiving medical treatment at the scene from independent TD Jerry Cowley, who had joined the protest.

Gauntlet

At about 7.30am up to 70 construction workers were transported into the site by minibus and jeeps. They had to run the gauntlet of cheers and jeers from the protesters who shouted “scab” and “may ye die roaring” at them.

Mr O Seighin said he and other local people would return to the site tomorrow and in the following days.

“We have to continue the fight and make it clear that this is not acceptable. It is dangerous,” he said.

Garda spokesman Ray McHugh said he was delighted events had taken place without incident and paid tribute to the peaceful nature of the protest.

Meanwhile, Dr Cowley said yesterday that he had made a formal complaint to the gardai over a delay in being given access to a woman injured in yesterday’s protest. Dr Cowley said he was stopped at a garda checkpoint on the road to the Shell terminal and told he would have to leave his car and walk to the injured woman.

Brian McDonald

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