We awake (Jan 1st 2016) to news that more towns in Ireland are under water due to storm flooding. And that perhaps the sea ice at the north pole might melt due to temperatures rising above zero. The first story is given a lot more prominence in Irish media than the second but strangely at the same time another story is being celebrated. The start of yet more greenhouse gases being pumped out of their safe place far below the sea off the Irish shore to be processed and then released into the atmosphere via the Corrib refinery.
Over two years after the last major mass direct action against Shell in Erris the state continues to pursue a vindictive prosecution against some of those arrested that day. In June 2013 at the culmination of a week of action around 70 people entered the Shell compound at Aughoose where the final section of the experimental high pressure raw gas pipeline was being connected.
The local community have been resisting the pipeline and refinery for a decade. During that resistance hundreds have been arrested or injured and several have spent periods in jail. Millions was spent every year deploying hundreds of Garda and at times the airforce and navy to make effective protest impossible. Despite this the protests meant that the project has finished years late and at 3 to 4 times the original projected cost.
Some great news as two Shell to Sea campaigners have prosecutions against them dismissed in relation to the mass trespass and alleged destruction of equipment on Shell's Corrib site last June. At the time we reported Jim Cusack claiming in the this Sindo that 150,000 worth of damage had been done to Shell machinery during the mass action.
These cases was dismissed on 9th July, 4 other cases were up for further processing and will be transferred to the Circuit court, where there will be the option of a jury trial.
A report on the Shell to Sea site reads
Almost two years after Shell smuggled their Tunnel Boring Machine out of Dublin port in the middle of the night, and then spent 3 days meeting resistance across the country before getting stuck in the bog, they removed it from Erris Monday night.
Shell to Sea campaigner Naoise Ó Mongáin asking Garda to stop videotaping his grand daughter during a protest at Shell's refinery on Saturday.
Yesterday (27 June) five people were arrested by the Garda as violence was used to break up protests against the continued imposition of an experimental gas pipeline on the community by Shell. In the morning 30 Garda blocked the entrance of Rossport Solidarity Camp and then arrested 2 Shell to Sea campaigners who were trying to access the public road. During these arrests Garda behaviour was described as "very violent" by an eyewitness we talked to.
Day 3 (Monday 24 June) of the week of action against Shell in Erris saw more spy cameras on the perimeter of the Shell compound at Aughoose destroyed overnight & anti-Shell slogans was painted on the walls and gates. During the day itself a Shell survery boat was successfully blockaded by Shell to Sea Kayaks although a couple of Kayaks were dragged along by the boat and capsized.
The first direct actions of the Erris struggle against Shell took place 8 years ago when 6 locals were injuncted and then 5 of them jailed for refusing to allow Shell onto their lands. In the 8 years that have passed there have been countless direct actions, dozens of arrests, about two dozen jailings and hundreds of people attacked by Garda or Shell's security company IRMS. But as the first two days of the week of action demonstrated that intense level of repression over so many years has yet to end effective resistance.
The second day of the week of action saw an unexpected success when Shell to Sea campaigners managed to breach Shells fortified compound and force security to retreat to the inner compound. While this happened much of the equipment, in particular the spy cameras, in the outer compound was damaged or destroyed.
This morning (Sat 22 June) around 50 Shell to Sea campaigners kicked off the Week of Action against Shell's experimental high pressure gas pipe in Erris by tearing up the bog road Shell has laid as part of its attempt to finish the pipeline. They also destroyed the sandbag dam that Shell were attempting to build across part of the estuary in order to be able to work on the pipeline route regardless of the tides. This was accomplished in full view of about 15 security from IRMS - the security company hired by Shell to repress protest.