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Irish Times: Judge gives Shell protesters until Friday

Tom Shiel, Irish Times
Published: Aug 01, 2007

A Circuit Court judge has given opponents of the Corrib gas project a deadline of noon on Friday to vacate the Rossport Solidarity Camp in north Mayo.

At a sitting of the Circuit Court in Castlebar yesterday, Judge Harvey Kenny set the timescale for the vacating of the encampment pending a full hearing on September 3rd of an application for an interlocutory injunction by Mayo County Council, which is seeking that the facility be closed down.

The local authority maintains the camp is unauthorised and that it is causing “irreparable damage” to the local environment.

At yesterday’s brief hearing Sean Deegan acting on behalf of four defendants, Mark Robinson, Eoin O LeidhIn, Bob Kavanagh and Niall Harnett, applied for an adjournment of the proceedings to enable him mount a defence.

The judge later indicated he would agree to an adjournment on the grounds that nobody be allowed remain in the camp. He gave the camp occupants until noon on Friday to leave in order to allow “a reasonable packing up time”, Mr Deegan said he had a difficulty with that in that “these people would be homeless”.

Judge Kenny replied that all he was asking for was the defendants to take their personal belongings out. He was not asking for the removal of any structures. He said he would allow one person to remain on the site purely for the purposes of security. Mr Deegan said two would be required for such purposes.

Judge Kenny initially insisted that only one person be allowed on the site but relented when John Kiely, for the council, indicated the local authority would have no problem with two provided these persons were named.

“No other persons are to occupy the site,” Judge Kenny stated. “It is to remain vacant.” Mr Deegan said Bob Kavanagh and Eoin O LeidhIn would stay on in the camp for security. The full injunction hearing is now scheduled to take place on September 3rd at Castlebar courthouse.

The solidarity camp was set up in 2005 and functions as part of the Shell to Sea campaign as a gesture of support for five local men who were in prison because of their opposition to the onshore gas pipeline. The council is seeking the four named defendants “cease the unauthorised use and development of lands” by erecting, maintaining and using tents and other structures and ancillary facilities for camping or habitation.

In an affidavit to the court, the local authority maintains that there is no planning application in respect of the camp and that it is being used as a base for those coming to the area to protest against the Shell gas project.

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