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Corrib pipeline protest leads to eight arrests

Monday, June 1, 2009

CONOR LALLY and LORNA SIGGINS

PROTESTERS OPPOSED to Shell EP Ireland’s controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo have been involved in fresh clashes with gardaí leading to the arrest of eight people.

Gardaí said up to 120 protesters gathered over the weekend at a “peace camp” beside Glengad beach, close to Belmullet. Around half of the group approached Shell’s fenced off construction site on the beach just before 5pm yesterday and tried to gain access to the site.

Three of the protesters managed to scale the metal fencing using a ladder and nets and were eventually removed by gardaí and Shell security guards. Other members of the protest were arrested as they attempted to climb the fence.

Some of the scuffles between the protesters and gardaí became vigorous but there were no reports of any serious injuries last night.

Seven men and a woman were arrested for alleged public order and trespass offences. They were being detained at Ballina Garda station last night.

The operation was led by local gardaí backed by a number of public order units that were drafted in to the area. The additional units were put in place to deal with a meeting of protesters yesterday known as the “Rossport solidarity camp summer gathering”.

A statement from those at the camp said five people had been arrested after they gained access to Shell’s compound. It said a sixth person was arrested later when “Gardaí targeted a prominent campaigner and forcibly detained him for speaking out against the actions of the Gardaí”.

The statement estimated some 200 protesters had attended and that these were met by 60 gardaí.

Three weeks ago seven people were arrested after at a national day of protest as people tried to use ropes and chains to pull down Shell’s fencing at the Glengad site.

Meanwhile, a report by the human rights organisation Afri has said spending cutbacks and extra levies on the taxpayer could be alleviated if the State took a greater stake in offshore oil and gas resources.

Under current licensing deals, companies are liable for 25 per cent tax on profits. “However, there are considerable write-offs on exploration and development costs which means such tax paid is minimal,” joint-author Andy Storey explained.

“We believe that projects such as Corrib should be environmentally safe, that the human rights of residents should be protected and that the State should get a fairer share of proceeds.”

The Afri report, The Great Gas Giveaway; How The Elites Have Gambled Our Health And Wealth , says it is “not too late” for Ireland to renegotiate Corrib.

Some 500 people took part in the 21st annual famine walk in the Doolough valley, Co Mayo on Saturday.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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