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Irish Independent: Anti-Shell activists stage sit-in at firm’s HQ

Published: Oct 12, 2006

ANTI-Shell activists have pledged to carry out further protests after staging a sit-in at the company’s headquarters in Dublin yesterday.

Seven protesters occupied the reception area of Corrib House on Lower Leeson Street, while six more used a borrowed ladder to climb up on to the roof.

The protest ended peacefully after 11 hours when all the activists left the building. No arrests were made.

The Shell to Sea group said they would be organising sit-ins at Shell’s headquarters on a weekly basis.

“Now we know we can get in. And we will protest at other places as well, such as the Statoil head office in the International Financial Services Centre”, said organiser Tadhg McGrath.

Mr McGrath, who is also a member of Sinn Fein, was one of the rooftop protesters who demonstrated their opposition to the current Corrib Gas project with flags, banners and megaphones.

The protesters used a bicyle chain to lock the glass double door of the office and placed a “Closed” sign outside. Gardai removed the chain, using bolt cutters, and remained at the scene until the protesters dispersed.

Shell to Sea spokesman Terry Clancy said the protest was designed to show solidarity with the activists who were “under siege” in North Mayo for blocking workers from entering the Corrib Gas terminal site.

“At 2pm, after communicating with our colleagues on the roof, we decided to leave, having made our point”, Mr Clancy said.

Shell would not comment on what security precautions it would be taking to prevent its office being occupied in the future.

But a spokeswoman said its employees had been able to gain access to the building during the protest via a second entrance. “Everybody has the right to a peaceful protest, but our workers and contractors in Mayo have a right to go to work. We think the vast majority of people want this to go ahead”, she said. But the protests against the construction of the 200m gas refinery terminal in Bellanaboy in North Mayo continued yesterday. Around 100 campaigners staged a sit-down protest on the road outside the site and began reciting the Rosary, before being removed 15 minutes later by a force of 100 gardai.

Superintendent Joseph Gannon, who is leading the garda operation, said it had become a game of cat and mouse, with the protesters varying their tactics. One protester went “jogging” last Tuesday, wearing a yellow bib with a support convoy of five vehicles behind him, he said.

“This man was forcing lorries and ordinary motorists to slow to a crawl. He told us to f..k off, that he was training for the Dublin City Marathon, before he was forced to pull into the side. Supt Gannon added that other protesters were travelling in jeeps at a snail’s space in order to disrupt Shell traffic.

Michael Brennan and Tom Shiel

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