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Shell fleet arrives in Broadhaven Bay ready for action

Irish Navy vessels, as many as 300 Garda officers and private security guards have been drafted into Glengad, in north Mayo, ahead of the arrival today of the Solitaire, the world’s largest pipe-laying ship. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

Irish Times: Shell ship arrives in Mayo

A massive security operation is under way today in Co Mayo as work on the final stages of Shell’s controversial Corrib gas offshore pipeline begins.

Solitaire, the world’s largest pipe-laying ship, arrived in Broadhaven Bay late last night.

Two Irish Navy vessels, as many as 300 Garda officers and private security guards have been drafted into Glengad, as tensions rose between protesters and authorities.

The arrival of Soliaire ahs sparked fears of a repeat of sea and land clashes which marred a similar attempt to complete the contentious works last year.

John Monaghan of the Pobal Chill Chomain community organisation, which is opposed to the pipeline being brought ashore, said local residents were bracing themselves for a stand-off.

“It may lead to extremely dangerous protests and God knows what is going to happen. We fear for the worst,” he said.

Two fishermen opposed to the laying of the Corrib gas offshore pipeline were arrested at sea, just hours before Solitaire arrived at the site..

The Garda confirmed one fisherman was arrested yesterday under the Public Order Act on suspicion of entering an exclusion zone thrown up by Shell around the works.

Campaigners, who dispute the exclusion zone has any legal basis, claim another fisherman Pat O’Donnell — whose boat was sunk just weeks ago in mysterious circumstances — was injured and hospitalised after an altercation.

A man in his 20s and an 18-year-old woman were arrested on Wednesday under the Public Order Act after swimming into the bay to protest.

Mr Monaghan questioned the scale of the security operation and the involvement of the State in a row between Shell and local campaigners. “It seems now like our parish is in lockdown,” he said. “I’m sure that’s going to lead to trouble later if they’re going to restrict people’s freedom of movement.”

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