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Shell to Sea Campaign: Corrib pipeline / Rossport 5 High Court Decision

The Shell to Sea campaign received very good news from the High Court on Wednesday.

• The stance of the Rossport Five and Brid McGarry has been legally vindicated.

• The original pipeline route through Rossport, for which Shell had obtained Compulsory Acquisition Orders, is now defunct.

• Shell will have to pay the €1 million costs, including most of those of the Rossport landowners.

• The campaign against the pipeline and refinery scheme continues.

Shell was applying to drop the permanent injunction against several local landowners. They had dropped the interlocutory (temporary) injunction in September 2005 in order to get the five men out of prison. Since the middle of 2006 they have been trying to drop the permanent injunction.

Many believed this was because they realised that to continue with it would have forced the disclosure of documents relating to the case, which may have showed the company and the Irish government in a bad light.

But the local landowners said -you can’t just drop the injunction as though it never meant anything – some of us went to jail as a result of that injunction.

Justice Mary Laffoy’s ruling at the High Court yesterday agrees with that standpoint and imposes conditions on the dropping of the injunction, including:

* Compulsory Acquisition Orders must be dropped against landowners along the pipeline route. This means that the original pipeline route is now formally and legally defunct. The only way it could go ahead is with the consent of the landowners.

* Shell pick up the legal costs associated with the injunction. The Rossport Five are still liable for the costs associated with their contempt of court, but these are marginal. For Shell to pursue these would be highly vindictive and an extremely bad public relations move (however, it should be remembered that this is Shell we are talking about).

The ruling also means that the stance taken by the Rossport Five and Brid McGarry is now legally vindicated. To say they were right is no longer an ideological position. It is now a legal position.

A further blow for Shell is that the company hoped that other legal matters which were raised during all the proceedings, arising from counterclaims made against Shell by the landowners, would be dispensed with. This has not happened. Justice Laffoy ruled that there are issues of “public law” still to be considered.

It can said that Shell abused the injunction process. They took out an injunction against five people, had them jailed on the foot of that injunction, and then tried to drop the injunction.

Yesterday’s judgement is good news in lots of ways. However, it is likely that Fianna Fáil and Shell will try to separate the situation of the pipeline away from the refinery at Bellanaboy, and will try to convince the public that the issue of the Rossport Five has now been resolved. The pipeline and refinery are part of the same scheme, and protests against them are continuing.

Hopefully many people will make their way to Bellanaboy in the next few weeks, and raise the issue of the refinery with politicians who call canvassing.

It should also be remembered that the basic deal under which companies like Shell operate in Ireland was negotiated by corrupt Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke (with Frank Fahey and Bertie Ahern), and entitles them to 100 per cent of the profits from the natural gas and oil off the Irish coast. Money that in most other countries would be used for the health service, pensions, schools, roads and other infrastructure projects, will instead go to their shareholders.

While yesterdays news from the High Court is very welcome, people will continue to protest against this deal under which the the people of Ireland are being robbed of their natural resources.

more information here: ,, and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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