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Irish Independent: Gardai called as gas protesters break into Shell terminal site

Published: Feb 17, 2007

A GROUP of up to 100 Shell to Sea activists caused a major security alert after they broke into the site of the controversial Corrib gas terminal yesterday.

Gardai eventually escorted the group off the Corrib Oil site after a peaceful stand-off.

The protesters were jubilant after they successfully breached the perimeter fence of the Co Mayo refinery. However, the company was left seething at the incursion.

Shell spokesman John Egan branded the protesters “trespassers”, and accused them of vandalising tools and threatening workers.

He also accused the activists of breaching a promise that yesterday’s ‘Day of Solidarity’ would be peaceful and non-confrontational.

An earlier protest – involving up to 300 activists bused in from all over Ireland – passed off peacefully.

The demonstrators were accompanied by “musicians” carrying improvised instruments made from wood and plastic containers.

However, as marchers dispersed from the first rally, a large section of the protesters changed direction and managed to gain access to the site by means of a side road.

A large group of up to 120 gardai were sent to the site to eject the protesters.

Local Gda Supt Joe Gannon later persuaded the protesters to leave on health and safety grounds at midday.

Cheered

The group were loudly cheered as they exited the main gates by supporters beating samba drums and pounding on the security fence with sticks. Mr Egan claimed Shell workers were subjected to “extreme abuse and verbal intimidation” by the protesters.

But members of the Shell to Sea group claimed some workers were “hostile” towards them.

“Many of the workers seemed to take our presence personally,” protester Tadhg McGrath said. “They were glowering at us.I was surprised by this.”

Tom Shiel

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