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The Guardian: Gardaí break up Shell protest in County Mayo

Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Tuesday October 24, 2006

A sit-down protest by environmental activists trying to stop Shell building a gas terminal in County Mayo was broken up by police yesterday in the latest clash over the future of Ireland’s Corrib gas field.

Campaigners, supported by many local residents, are demanding that the Anglo-Dutch oil company and its Norwegian partner, Statoil, build an offshore treatment plant instead of one at Bellanaboy, near Erris, in the far west of Ireland. Work on the site restarted earlier this month after an independent mediator failed to resolve the dispute.

Workers have complained of intimidation as they are escorted into work in convoys protected by police. On Friday more than 300 “Shell to Sea” demonstrators prevented vehicles entering the terminal site. The route was cleared when officers moved in. One person was arrested. Yesterday the convoy was again stopped, this time at a crossroads a mile from the site entrance. Gardaí had to remove more than 100 people staging the sit-down.

Eve Campbell, an archaeologist, runs the campaign’s solidarity camp near the terminal site. “We want the terminal to be out at sea so that it doesn’t destroy the environment and cause health and safety problems,” she said.

“The refinery is being built on unstable blanket bog.”

A spokeswoman for Shell Ireland told the Guardian that the consortium is investigating alternative routes for the pipeline but “placing the terminal offshore would be less safe and uneconomic … We would pull out of the project rather than go offshore.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1929718,00.html

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