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Irish Independent: Mayo’s no to troublemakers

Published: Nov 24, 2006

THE findings of the RedC opinion poll published today show that people in Co Mayo still agree to differ on aspects of the Corrib gas pipeline controversy, but a vast majority express unequivocal disapproval for intimidation, manipulation and law breaking.

That outcome is no more and no less than we would expect from a cross-section of sane, reasonable, law-abiding citizens.

However, we needed to ask these questions. We needed to separate the truth from the lies, such has been the level of disinformation and bellicose self-justification aired in recent times.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the poll is the unambiguity of many people’s opinion on matters that have considerable bearing on the kind of society we think we live in, and the kind of society we want.

About a third of the Mayo residents surveyed believe the protests at the new refinery should cease immediately.

An even greater number say the protests should continue, but without the intimidatory tactics that have led to ugly, violent scenes over the last number of weeks and months.

The latter is no more than an affirmation of people’s right to protest in a democratic society. Again, it is no more and no less than we might have expected from decent people.

Protesting was never the problem with the Shell protesters.

The problem was contempt for the law.

More significant, and potentially more sinister, is the acceptance by large majorities (more than half in each case) that the protestors have been able to intimidate and silence local people who disagree with them, and that they are being actively controlled by troublemakers from outside.

Many reasonable people around the country pricked up their ears when the Minister for Justice asserted that “a tiny minority of people continue to confront the law and they are being supported in this by the Sinn Fein party”. Was this a piece of pre-election rhetoric, or was there evidence that Provo activists were indeed stirring it up?

Interestingly, of those people who are closer to the scene than the Minister, more agree with him than disagree.

In the course of this battle of wills we have seen violence, convictions and even death threats. Clearly, the people of Mayo, and beyond, want no more of it. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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