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Irish Times: Shell to Sea group would ‘consider’ halting protests

By: Alison Healy and Conor Lally, Irish Times
Published: Dec 04, 2006

Shell to Sea campaigners have said they would consider halting their protests against the Corrib gas project if Taoiseach Bertie Ahern or Minister for Natural Resources Noel Dempsey met with them.

Willie Corduff, a member of the Rossport Five, said it would be “a big, big help” if Mr Ahern intervened.

“They are fighting in Northern Ireland for the last 25 to 30 years. It didn’t solve anything. He should know that. Why not make peace here and talk to us before it gets too late?”

He was speaking as the Shell to Sea campaign protested outside Shell headquarters in Dublin on Saturday.

Mr Corduff said the demonstrations would continue indefinitely until they got a result. “But we want them peaceful. We don’t want trouble. We just want peaceful protest until they wake up and get our message. It’s taking them a long time.”

Mr Corduff rejected claims that the Shell to Sea group was being hijacked by outside interests. “We are a local community group. Anyone that wants to join us are welcome, let them be Sinn Fein, let them be Fianna Fail, Fine Gael. We’re there for anyone that wants to join us. We rule the thing from Mayo at all times.”

Saturday’s 200-strong protest was joined by politicians including Independent deputy Dr Jerry Cowley and Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party.

Des Bonass of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions called on unions to come together to back the Shell to Sea campaign. “The trade union movement has to get itself organised in a better way to campaign on behalf of the Rossport Five,” he said.

Cormac McMahon of the Dublin Shell to Sea group claimed the media was pumping out “horrendous lies and sleaze” about the Shell to Sea campaign.

Meanwhile, leaders of the protest against the gas project have rejected comments by a senior Garda officer that protesters are conducting a “co-ordinated campaign of intimidation” against Shell workers, gardaI and innocent members of the public.

Dr Cowley, in whose constituency the Shell project is located, branded as “disgraceful” comments by Belmullet-based superintendent Joe Gannon.

In an interview with Garda Review , the Garda Representative Association’s magazine, Supt Gannon, who is in charge of policing the protest, said protesters had set up checkpoints on roadways and interrogated motorists for up to 45 minutes before refusing passage to some on roads around Shell’s construction site.

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