About 150 people travelled to County Mayo, Ireland, last weekend for the Rossport summer gathering against a Shell-led consortium’s attempts to build and operate a high pressure gas pipeline and refinery in the remote and ecologically sensitive region. Workshops included direct action training, tours of the local area, a talk from the women of Erris and water-based action training. The weather was amazing and everyone enjoyed the sea and sun in this beautiful place.
On Sunday, people walked over to the compound that has been built on the sand dunes very close to where the old camp used to be. A demo was held and there were some minor scuffles with the Gardai (police) and one person was arrested. The compound resembles a fortress with a huge metal fence and is filled with Shell security, the infamous IRMS. (One of the key members of the terrorist group who attempted to assassinate the Bolivian president previously worked for the IRMS – see here.) On the compound fence a sign explained that this was a natural habitat for sand martins and the area should not be disturbed.
Most visitors left on Monday and, in the evening, the dredging boats turned up and started dredging the seabed in preparation for laying the pipeline. On Tuesday morning, a shoal of porpoises arrived in the bay and had to be chased off by the security boats. Later in the day, a group of protesters went out in kayaks and had a run around with the Gardai boats and Shell security. At about 6pm, the pirates again entered the water, this time with a clear intent of boarding the dredger ships. Two protesters managed to board one of the dredger boats and climbed up the arm of the crane, where they stayed for 10 hours, stopping work on the boat completely during this time.
Early on Thursday morning, the kayakers again took to the water and, again, a protester managed to board one of the dredger boats. This time Shell security reacted violently and one protester had to be taken to hospital with a suspected broken thumb. The Gardai were not present at all during this action and it was felt that the Shell security had ‘free reign’ in their treatment of protesters.
The company contracted by Shell to carry out dredging work for the off-shore gas pipeline is Van Oord. Following the incident on Thursday, the Van Oord ships stopped working and left the area. Despite official statements from Van Oord claiming that they left due to bad weather, a Shell security guard told people that their departure was due to protesters’ actions and that Van Oord were unwilling to work with the reckless Shell security endangering protesters and compromising workers’ safety.
It seems likely that placing pressure on the company may help persuade them to halt their work in the bay completely. Below are contact details for Van Oord:
PO Box: 85743009, AN Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Visiting address: Watermanweg, 643067 GG Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 10 447 8444
The presence of the dredger boats signal the imminent arrival of the Solitaire, which is the ship that will lay the pipeline. Last summer the Solitaire left the bay without laying the pipe and this summer it is hoped that resistance from the camp and the community will, once again, ensure the pipeline is not laid. The camp itself will continue in its current location in a field just up from the shore. What is needed over the next month is people to support the campaign and take action. The camp can be contacted at email@example.com.