A week-long sitting of court cases involving Shell to Sea protesters began yesterday in Belmullet District Court. Nineteen protesters face up to 80 charges arising from protests that took place over the last year.
The court cases follow a protest at 7am last Friday that involved up to 70 protesters who staged a blockade and disrupted work on the Corrib Gas project.
The protesters blockaded the Shell Aughoose compound in north Mayo in support of the local community disrupted by the haulage and construction works.
Earlier this week, a group of local residents removed haulage road signs along the L1202, which runs from Aughoose Church to Glengad. Shell EP Ireland has drawn up a traffic-management plan for the final stage of the project, but residents have said that the plan does not allow for the impact of Garda and security escorts.
Supt Patrick Diskin of Belmullet Garda station said he had received no complaints on the road issue, and denied residents’ claims that there were road closures and ‘temporary restrictions’.
“Gardaí on duty stop traffic temporarily in the interest of safety to all road users when large haulage vehicles are approaching/departing Glengad,” Supt Diskin said.
Spokesperson for Rossport Solidarity Camp, Róisín Ní Fhaoláin said that since Shell started the construction of the Glengad compound the area has been under siege and ‘all road users have been forced to yield to Shell’.
Meanwhile, the first day of the special sitting of Belmullet District Court got under way yesterday with the sitting expected to last the week. A small number of the protesters face up to 14 charges and Shell to Sea claim that certain individuals are being targeted for arrest.
“The community here has been abandoned time and time again by politicians, An Bord Pleanála and The State, and now those who have been living and working in solidarity with the community are being criminalised and intimidated,” said Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway, who himself faces public-order charges.