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Irish Times: Protests over gas pipeline

Published: Oct 11, 2006

Madam, – In response to Fergus Beatty’s astonishment (October 9th) at my suggestion that the Irish Government should not emulate the Nigerian Government in terms of its collusion with the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria, the following points are worth making.

The Nigerian state imprisoned Wiwa and his colleagues for the “crime” of trying to protect their people and land. The Irish State has colluded with Shell in the imprisonment of the Rossport Five, whose “crime” was their determination to resist the running of a dangerous pipeline through the heart of their small rural community.

This collusion continues on a daily basis through the use of large numbers of gardaI who serve the interest of Shell, while pushing aside those who oppose their presence in their community.

We are safe in the knowledge that the Rossport Five will not meet a similar fate to that of Ken Saro-Wiwa. But we must also remember that the multinational company in question is the same Shell, which has never been known to allow human rights to stand in the way of its pursuit of profit. People who protest in Nigeria may lose their lives. People who protest here will not lose their lives but may lose their livelihoods and safety from accidental death. – Yours, etc,

JOE MURRAY, Co-ordinator, Afri, Phibsborough Road, Dublin 7.

Madam, – One of the Shell protesters appearing in a TV news report last weekend used the phrase in Irish, “Is linne an ait seo”. In English this means: “This place is ours”.

This notion is a medieval one which has no place in a State such as ours. The people of that area may own their own properties but they do not own that area. This insistence on ownership of the place is sinister since it can lead to the promotion of the claimed ownership by coercion and the denial to other property owners of their legitimate rights. This, of course, is what these protesters are doing in their daily sit-ins.

The public representatives who support them seem to value little the role of our courts as our legitimate constitutional means for conflict resolution.

The people we see nightly blocking the roads and struggling with gardaI are a disgrace and it is time people matured and stopped viewing them as heroes. – Yours, etc,

NOEL CONLON, Beglieve, Bailieborough, Co Cavan.

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