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Irish Independent: Tough criminals ‘guarded’ Rossport Five

Published: Jan 05, 2007

HARDENED criminals gave the Rossport Five assurances they would not be harmed during their 94-day stay in prison.

The five men were initially advised by wardens not to mix with the other inmates at Cloverhill Prison because it was ‘no picnic’.

But according to the eldest member of the group, Micheal O Seighin, they quickly began talking to the prisoners and got assurances in return.

“One of the lads, he was waiting for trial and he came to me early on and said: ‘I guarantee you that there’s no one going to hassle you. They know what they’ll get if they do. You’ll be perfectly safe’.”

In a new book, titled ‘Our Story’, the Rossport Five tell how prisoners would bang their cell doors in support when the Corrib gas protests were on the news.

“We stuck out a mile. We were the oldest that were there, they were nearly all young. You met all types of people in there for all different types of crime,” said farmer Willie Corduff.

The five men made the 200-mile journey from North Mayo to Dublin yesterday for the national launch of the book, which has already sold out its first print run of 3,000 copies.

The book describes how they got postcards from schoolchildren and nuns while in prison and tells of the strain it put on their wives and families.

Mr Corduff said his wife Mary used to be ‘wrecked looking’ during their weekly visits.

“I said ‘Is it really worth it?’ but she encouraged me that it would be. The worst part of it was the journey up and down. I used to worry that something was going to happen to them, with all the accidents on the roads.”

Mr Corduff said he hoped the 208-page book would give people an insight into the dispute.

“We want to tell what we were going through and our suffering – for no gains. But if we hadn’t done it, we’d probably be a lot worse off like in Nigeria where 300 people were killed on new year’s day when an oil pipeline exploded.”

Another member of the group, Vincent McGrath, said: “I think when people see what we’ve gone through, especially our wives, they will understand what it’s all about.”

Shell has agreed to build the Corrib gas pipeline along an alternative route but the Rossport Five’s daily protests outside the yet-to-be constructed Bellanaboy refinery are continuing.

Michael Brennan

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