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Irish Independent: Banish these troublesome, preposterous protesters out to sea, not the refinery

By KEVIN MYERS
Friday August 03 2007

HOW much longer must we endure the preposterous antics of the Shell to Sea campaigners? They have failed every democratic test that has come their way, yet still they picket the Shell terminal at Bellanaboy, with their maudlin self-righteousness and their know-nothing grasp of scientific realities. I hate to criticise a multinational, because generally speaking I am a great fan of multinationals (they being the basis of our present prosperity) but I have to say that Shell has been scandalously remiss in not employing someone to bump off a few of these fellows.

Case

What? That’s against the law? It’s actually illegal to assassinate cranks and fools? Well, if that really is the case, then our legislators have got some serious answering to do. So, until the present unsatisfactory state of the law is remedied, Shell will have to stick to more pacific means to end the Rossport nonsense. Which means that the company should take out individual injunctions, to be vigorously pursued through the courts, until every single S2S miscreant is in jail. A horrible jail, preferably. I would rather like to see these fellows jailed in Mountjoy.

The S2S campaign is just fir bolg mumbo-jumbo; a fusion of the Marian hysteria of Knock on a bad day along with the seedy cowardice of the boycott; some hippy pseudo-environmentalism, plus some Shinner voodoo thrown in for good measure. The Catholic church has known some bad times in recent years, but none compare with its failure to wade in, crosiers flailing, over the use of the rosary to protect demonstrators from the rule of law last autumn. The sacrilegious recitation of The Sorrowful Mysteries to convert a political gathering blocking a public highway into a prayer-meeting deserved a score of broken scalps, and maybe a couple of top eco-druids on life-support.

We got all hot and bothered about the Romanian encampment on the M50, but those people were only there for a couple of months. The Shell to Sea encampment at the environmentally-sensitive Glengad has been there for two years. Taking that special sensitivity into account, why are bulldozers (with eco- friendly tracks made from recycled environmentalists) not being used to clear the intruders away once and for all, aided perhaps by some Rhodesian Ridgebacks?

What is really interesting about S2S is the number of its adherents who are employed by the state, or on state welfare. One protester, Philip McGrath, last month was found guilty of fraudulently drawing €7,000 in welfare. He was not sent to torment some poor prisoners in the ‘Joy, as he should have been, but was merely fined €2,000, plus €500 expenses. Which, as far as I can work out, left him €4,500 to the good. And that, apparently, is the rule of law, as practised in Mayo. Rather odd.

No. Everything about this affair is odd, for the Garda operation at Bellanaboy has already cost €5m. Which means, of course, with the state paying for both the gardai and the demonstrators, that this lunacy can go on indefinitely. Yet the protesters have been roundly rejected by the electors of Mayo. The independent TD, the very foolish Jerry Cowley, who vociferously supported the S2S campaign, lost his seat, and Michael Ring, who supports the refinery, got more votes in Rossport than the outgoing TD and the Shinners combined.

One would be almost tempted to say that the entire S2S campaign is being funded by Vladimir Putin, except that not even that barking megalomaniac would employ such a bunch of cranks and fools.

Nonetheless, he, and other great worthies, like Roman Abramovich, are the prime beneficiaries of a stalled Shell project in Mayo. Because until we get our own gas, we’ll be burning gas which has come all the way from Siberia, and if you can think of anything more absurd than that, I congratulate you on the fertility of your imagination.

But it needs no imagination at all to realise that, with winter bringing us massive Atlantic storms every year, a refinery miles out in the ocean doesn’t make any technological, moral or economic sense. And we need the gas. The argument is simple.

Shell has been pussy-footing around with these people because it’s so concerned with “public opinion”.

But the latter has grown quite sturdy of late. It understands that the rule of law has to be enforced, by apparently harsh measures if need be: look at the M50 clear-out, which would not have happened even a year ago.

– KEVIN MYERS

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/banish-these-troublesome-preposterous-protesters-out-to-sea-not-the-refinery-1050258.html

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