Shell supply quarries vandalised
Shell to Sea reject accusation of involvement, as thousands of euros worth of damage done
A MAJOR stand-off has developed between the Pro-Gas Mayo group and Shell to Sea over violent incidents which incurred thousands of euros of damages at two quarries, in the aftermath of last Friday’s march at Bellanaboy.
In a statement, the Pro-Gas group unequivocally condemned the protest itself and also firmly pointed the finger at Shell to Sea regarding break-ins and significant damage to the property of two local quarry owners, Barrett’s and Lennon’s, who supply materials to Shell.
In turn, Shell to Sea has condemned and distanced itself from any law-breaking, or violence, and has accused Pro-Gas of making misleading and mischievous statements.
Mr TJ Lennon told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) that he received a phonecall around 8pm on Friday (November 10) last from Mr PJ Barrett, saying that the latter’s quarry, on the Crossmolina Road, had been vandalised and that he should also check his property.
“I went and checked and the damage had already been done. There was about €2,000 to €3,000 worth of damage done to my lorries and a big stone had been thrown through the window of a porta-kabin and landed on a computer,” said Mr Lennon.
“We suspect who is behind it. You know, it is the first time there was any damage ever done here. I’m living in this village and working here for nearly 50 years, and my father before me, and there was never anything stolen,” he said.
“All we’re doing is supplying stone to whoever wants it. We’re not going to refuse business and we’re not going to be intimidated,” he added.
Also talking to The Mayo News, Mr PJ Barrett said that he had attended a funeral last Friday evening in Bangor Erris and was alerted when one of his workers returned late with a lorry and came upon the scene of significant vandalism.
“There were about five lorries with broken windscreens and three machines and my own jeep. We think it may have been done with a jack. I’m disgusted. We will have also lost about three days’ work and the costs should be around €10,000,” said Mr Lennon.
In a statement, signed by Pro-Gas Mayo, the Chairman, Mr Padraig Cosgrove and Secretary, Mr Brendan Cafferty, strongly criticised the ‘so-called peaceful protest’ which necessitated a large Garda presence, at ‘an ongoing public expense’.
“We note that the majority of those present were from outside the area, and included many SF types from Northern Ireland,” the statement continued.
Condemning also the damage to property at Barrett’s and Lennon’s quarries, it stated ‘we have no doubt that this was perpetrated by protesters leaving the area under cover of darkness’.
“We call on those locally responsible for organising the protests to desist from bringing undesirable elements into the area. We also call on all right-thinking people (Church and State) to join with us in condemning this latest activity and to help bring the perpetrators to justice,” it concluded.
Spokesman for Shell to Sea, Ms Mary Corduff, strongly attacked the Pro-Gas group’s accusations and said the protest group neither condoned vandalism, nor had any need to go down such a road.
“Of course we condemn any kind of violence or law-breaking. But this accusation by Pro-Gas implies that any incident where the law was broken in Mayo over the weekend is our doing. So does that mean that the incident that happened in a Kilkelly pub was also Shell to Sea protesters?” said Mrs Corduff, wife of Rossport Five’s Willie.
“This is a case for the Gardaí and has nothing to do with Pro-Gas or Shell to Sea,” she also said.
When pressed by The Mayo News, Mary Corduff did concede, however, that the north Mayo group is ‘not in control of who comes to the protests [at the proposed refinery site]’.
A Garda spokesman confirmed the incidents occurred between 8pm and 10pm last Friday. He said there was a serious amount of damage done and the investigation was continuing.
Last Friday’s protest marked the 12th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian writer and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight comrades who had opposed the activities of Shell, and other oil companies, in the Niger delta. It also marked the first anniversary of a major clash between gardaí and protestors at Bellanaboy. A large Garda force, including members of the public order unit, policed the protest which attracted about 300 protestors from all over the country. There were three arrests and one man was hospitalised after a lorry ran over his leg. Shell later said the lorry was not involved with its construction activities at the site.
Meanwhile, RPS, the consultants for the onshore pipeline route selection has published an update of its work since shortlisting three preferred route corridors during September last.
The newsletter states that ongoing surveys and consultations have led to a ‘wider core area’ and ‘possible variations of Corridors A, B and C’.
“We are also currently seeking permission through the District Court under Section 26 of the Gas Act, to access the wider commonage areas that Corridor A goes through,” it continues.
It also observed that RPS was reliant on Irish Land Registry records for contacting land-owners, which may have inadvertently led to the exclusion of some landholders. It invites these holders to contact Lorraine Herity in the RPS Project Office at 097 20720.
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