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Irish Times: Eco-warriors face court after gas protest

Tom Shiel,
Published: Jun 06, 2007

Five eco-warriors are expected to appear in court next week after a four-hour protest over Shell E&P Ireland’s operation to remove peat from the site of the Corrib gas terminal in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo.

In a move described later by gardaI as “very sophisticated”, four female activists and one male locked on to each other and sat down on the ground near the gates to the Bord na Mona peat deposition site at Srahmore, Bangor Erris.

The protesters were attached to each other through a Wavin pipe filled with concrete and rod iron, according to Supt Joseph Gannon, and firemen had to be called to carry out the delicate operation of cutting them free. The drama began at about 7.30am and lasted until about 11.30am when the fire team completed its work.

The five activists were arrested and brought to Belmullet Garda station where they were charged later with obstruction, breach of the peace and failing to observe a Garda instruction. They were then released and are expected to appear in court next Tuesday.

The process of cutting through the piping was very delicate and painstaking because of the necessity to avoid any injury.

Supt Gannon said it had been the first time that the lock-on resistance method had been used by Corrib gas protesters. The system was quite popular with protesters worldwide, he added.

Those involved in yesterday’s incidents are not local members of the Shell to Sea organisation.

Caoimhe Kearns, of the Dublin Shell to Sea group, speaking on behalf of the protesters, said the action was aimed at highlighting health and safety issues and concerns that local people would not benefit from the Corrib Gas project.

Shell terminated its peat haulage operation during the protest, confining its lorries to the excavation site at Bellanaboy, 11km (seven miles) from the deposition area.

The protesters say their action, which seemed to take Shell E&P Ireland by surprise, is part of their ongoing campaign of opposition to the 200 million refinery.

There would be further protests, they warned, and they “would try to be creative”.

John Egan, external affairs manager with Shell, said yesterday the fact the peat removal operation was suspended temporarily was not an issue.

“We made excellent progress with the haulage during April and May and are well ahead of schedule.”

Mr Egan also said he understood that eco-warriors from outside areas rather than local Shell to Sea activists were involved in yesterday’s action, the most disruptive from the company’s point of view for some time.

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