AS Shell begins construction work on the final phase of the controversial Corrib gas project clashes between protestors and IRMS (Integrated Risk Management Services) personnel continued yesterday with a lone man, suspended from a 20-foot high tripod, impeding work from shortly after dawn until lunchtime. The tri-pod was situated along the public road to Aughoose from the Bellanaboy refinery site.
This protest follows a series of actions taken by the Rossport Solidarity Camp and Shell to Sea over the last number of days. Last Friday there were clashes between protestors and a cordon of up to 70 IRMS personnel.
Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington said last night: “Opposition to this experimental project is as strong as ever. Today’s tripod action is an indicator of the kind of resistance Shell can expect as it tries to dig its tunnel.”
A statement by Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL) last Friday confirmed that construction work had just commenced on the final phase of the project, which involves building an 8.3 km long onshore pipeline, part of which encompasses a 4.9km tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay.
The statement said that Shell had ‘received all the necessary consents for these works’ from a number of statutory bodies.
It said: “SEPIL is committed to ensuring that this final construction phase has the least possible impact on the local community. Five full-time community liaison officers are available to deal with queries from local residents. ”
Meanwhile, around 3am on Thursday last gardaí removed a caravan used by the camp across from the Aughoose works site. A camp spokeswoman said they believed the caravan had been illegally seized and impounded by Mayo County Council.
“This caravan was on private property on the edge of a field and we are seeking clarification on why it was removed,” the spokeswoman said.
Mayo County Council said in a statement that it ‘removed a temporary dwelling which was causing a hazard to road traffic users, from the roadside at Aughoose in accordance with section 69 of the Roads Act 1993’.
“This was to ensure the health and safety of road users,” the statement said.
NORTH west Mayo basked in sunshine last Friday as work on the final phase of the gas project started. It is 15 years since the gas field was first discovered and over a decade since protests started.
As local farmer , Willie Corduff looked across his lands at the Aughoose works site, he said it was very sad to see a field, once filled with grazing sheep, now being policed by dozens of private security guards and some gardaí.
Mr Corduff is one of the local men, known as the Rossport Five, who were jailed after flouting a court order, which allowed Shell onto their lands in 2005.
“I feel sad and disgusted to see all those yellow jackets and machinery destroying what our fathers and forefathers protected. We have no choice now but to go back to protesting on the side of the roads.
“How is it farmers all over the country have been stopped from cutting turf and Shell is allowed remove this huge area of protected bogland,” Willie Corduff said.