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SHELL TO SEA SUPPORTER BECOMES PRESIDENT OF IRELAND

SHELL TO SEA SUPPORTER MICHAEL D. HIGGINS (RIGHT) BECOMES PRESIDENT AS  CAMPAIGN MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF GARDA BATON CHARGE AT SHELL’S REFINERY SITE

10 November 2011

— Michael D. Higgins: ‘The people of Erris deserve protection from any company that seeks to trample over their rights. No company should be outside the law’ —

As Shell to Sea supporter Michael D. Higgins prepares to be sworn in as President of Ireland tomorrow (Friday Nov 11th), hundreds of campaigners will gather in north Mayo to mark the fifth anniversary of the infamous Garda baton charge at Shell’s refinery site.

In February 2010, Michael D Higgins said of the Corrib project: “Agencies of the State got involved on the side of the developer, rather than on the side of the community. Given that alternative models were available in other countries, it was scandalous that we proceeded as we did.” [1]

Speaking at a protest at the gates of Shell’s refinery site on November 6th, 2006, Mr Higgins said: “The issue is the right of the people of Erris to have security and safety. They want to be able to live their lives in peace. They deserve protection from any company that seeks to trample over their rights. What is important are issues of justice and no company should be outside the law.”

He continued: “The resources of this planet need to be used responsibly for the people of the planet. The resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland.”

On the morning of Higgins’ inauguration as President, local residents and their supporters will gather at 10am at the gates of Shell’s inland refinery. From there they will walk to Bellanaboy Bridge to commemorate a baton charge by Gardaí on November 10th, 2006. The baton charge resulted in numerous injuries to campaigners and is one of the low points of the 11-year struggle against the inland refinery and high pressure pipeline.

They will also be marking the 16th anniversary of the execution of nine activists in Ogoniland, Nigeria. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10th, 2005 for their opposition to Shell’s environmental destruction in the Niger delta.

From 7am, campaigners will carry out mass actions at Shell facilities.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “For 11 years this community has been resisting the combined force of a corrupt State and arrogant multinationals. Shell’s experimental inland refinery in this bog is a monument to corruption and we will continue to resist it. ”

ENDS

NOTES:

1. Mr Higgins was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, 3rd February 2010, during a debate on the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

http://www.kildarestreet.com/debate/?id=2010-02-03.743.0

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Maura Harrington                         087 9591474

Terence Conway                          086 0866264

http://www.shelltosea.com

http://www.facebook.com/shelltosea

http://twitter.com/#!/ShellToSea

The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:

1) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.

2) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted.

3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of recoverable oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2010 of $79, this works out at $790 billion, or €580 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south & east coasts or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.

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