Day of protest in Dublin to mark Pat's 100th day

Two articles on protests in Dublin to mark the 100th day of imprisonment of Erris fisherman Pat O'Donnell for his continued resistance to Shell's attempt to impose an experimental raw gas pipeline on the people of Kilcommon.  The second article describes the occupation of the Department of Natural Resources that was part of this day of action

Report on occupation of Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

 

On May 21 2010 campaigners with Shell to Sea entered the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources drapped in chains and locked together to mark the 100th day of the imprisonment of Erris fisherman Pat O'Donnell.  This action is part of a national day of protest which includes a protest outside the HQ of Shell on Leeson street, only 50m from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. A public protest starts at 5pm tonight at Shell HQ just across the road from the department.

Within minutes of the occupations a force of at least 14 Gardai including now 2 Garda cars, 2 Garda bikes and a Garda van with 2 Garda cyclists around corner arrived on the scene.  An unmarked car with cutting equipment also arrived.  The last report received indicated that the chains have been cut and Gardai are now taking details of the Shell to Sea campaigners. The two women were taken away in an unmarked car, the two men in a Garda van.

At 5pm as planned upwards of 60 Shell to Sea campaigners gathered outside the Shell HQ on Leeson street with banners and placards expressing solidarity with Pat & Niall.  Leaflets highlighting the jailings and the facts of the campaign were distributed to the rush hour crowd, by the time the picket wound up at 7 all of these had been distributed.  Quite a number of passing cars tooted their support.  After 7 over a dozen people from the picket made their way to Harcourt Terrace Gardai station where we cheered our four imprisoned friends after their release.  Three received cautions, one is charged with section 8 and section 9 of the Public Order Act, a catch all piece of any protest legislation.  Mark, one of the WSM members who had been arrested when congratulated on his release reflected that it was much at "all compared to whats Pat and Niall and many others have had to deal from the State and Shell."

Interestingly they reported that while Gardai were initially treating those locked on roughly this all changed a couple of minutes in when the Gardai received a phone call.  As they were being released they over heard the desk cop ringing 'Eamonn' to say 3 had accepted cautions, presumably Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan had intervened to avoid further embarassment to himself, before the Green Party got to power he was a supposed supporter of the campaign and was even photographed  with a placard expressing this.  Now his department is imposing the project on the local community, a neat example of how the electoral system works.

Pat O'Donnell was is 52 was sentenced in February to seven months in prison for obstructing a Gardai.  The previous summer one of his fishing boats was boarder at night by four masked and armed men who proceeded to sabotage the boat so that it sank.  Pat and his fellow crew member were lucky to escape with their lives.  The Gardai far from pursuing the escape boat of the boarding party instead used the excuse to interrogate Pat.

Pat's boat was sunk just weeks before Shell's pipe lying ship the Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven bay.  When it arrived Gardai arrested Pat and impounded his remaining boats, preventing him from working his fishing grounds which lie along the pipeline route.  The previous summer when the Solitare had failed to succesfully lay a pipeline Pat had also been arrested and released only minutes before a high court case to achieve his release was to be heard.  His release two minutes before the start of the case allowed the judge to refuse to take it.

Speaking from inside the occupation Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said: “Pat O’Donnell is a brave and honourable man who has simply stood up for the health and safety rights of his community and for the rights of the people of Ireland to benefit economically and socially from our vast oil and gas resources.”  This is a reference to the hundreds of billions worth of gas and oil that energy exploration companies have been given by the Irish state with only the most token of tax payments (and no royalties) after costs have been deducted.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Dublin Shell to Sea protesting at Shell HQ

Dublin Shell to Sea is protesting today at Shell's HQ on Leeson street to mark the 100th day that fisherman Pat O'Donnell has spent in prison for resisting Shell's experimental gas pipeline. Pat was joined in Castlerea jail 31 days ago by another Shell to Sea campaigner Niall Harnett.

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins said: “Pat is a highly respected and valued member of the Erris community. His only ‘crime’ has been to oppose the imposition of Shell’s highly dangerous experimental gas pipeline and to uphold the right of his community to live in peace and safety. For this he has lost his liberty. We ask all of those concerned with justice and who value the rights of people above the profits of multinational corporations to come out in support of Pat.”

“It is important that a clear and unequivocal message is sent to both the government and Shell that people like Pat represent all that is positive in our society. While Fianna Fáil’s banker friends such as Seán Fitzpatrick can swan around the world on sunshine holidays, those, like Pat O’Donnell, who stand up against corporate greed and corruption languish in prison cells. It is a complete travesty of justice that corporate greed is rewarded, while defending one’s community in the face of corporate greed is considered a crime. Pat deserves justice and should be released from prison immediately.’

Commenting on the wider implications of this project, Caoimhe said, ‘The imposition of Shell’s project on the people of Erris have much wider implications, which stretch beyond Co. Mayo. The Shell to Sea campaign has consistently highlighted the fact that the people of Ireland will not benefit from the extraction of gas from the Corrib field or other potential oil and gas finds off the Irish coast, estimated to be worth over €420 billion”
 

  


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