Four separate actions shut down Shell's work all day on Thursday
From 7am to 7pm on Thursday, the road between Shell's Bellanaboy refinery and the Aughoose compound was virtually shut down by local residents and supporters from the Rossport Solidarity Camp. Between a person sat on top of a tractor and then a tripod in the morning, a blockade of the scaffolding company responsible for getting the tripod removed, then a mass of people blocking the road outside the refinery in the afternoon, it was a brilliantly successful day.
At 7am Thursday morning six people from the Rossport Solidarity Camp went down to the road between the refinery and the Aughoose compound to stop tractors from bringing equipment from the refinery to the compound. Currently Shell are trying to bring bogmats and fencing to the temporary compound at Aughoose in order to start building a permanent compound from which they hope to begin the tunnel for the onshore pipeline. The first tractor that came out of the refinery was stopped by the protesters, and one person who got on the roof of the tractor stayed on top for almost two and a half hours, keeping the road blocked that whole time. The person got down off the tractor before the garda cutting team (the team of guards whom remove protesters from heights) arrived and was not arrested. Once the road had been cleared a second tractor was being brought through with a garda escort and a group of protesters briefly blocked it. While all the guards were tied up with that, a tripod was set up just down the road beside the Coillte forest. That was the last tractor to enter the compound Thursday. The tripod was set up at 9:30am, and as soon as it went up a group in Crossmolina were ready to blockade the scaffolding company. AGS scaffolding is owned by the brother of Sergeant James Gill, and they get called in to build scaffolding around the tripods in order to get the climbers down. Five people in Crossmolina blocked the gates into the AGS car park with banners from the moment the tripod went up. Later on someone climbed on top of the scaffolding to ensure it couldn't go anywhere. The owner and driver of the truck was very like his brother, ramming the gate into people with a forklift. He lost control, driving erratically at the protesters and fetching a ladder as if he were part of the public order unit. The person got down from the truck without being arrested, and in total the scaffolding truck was blockaded for three and a half hours. When the scaffolding eventually got to the tripod at about 1:30pm, it took an hour and a half to build the scaffolding tower and remove the person from the tripod. When the scaffolding was built up to the level of the person in the tripod, the person climbed into the apex of the tripod, forcing them to build another level of scaffolding. The person climbed one of the poles of the scaffolding tower, then five gardaí came and pulled him down, handcuffed him and cable tied his ankles together. They passed him from the scaffolding tower down to gardaí on the ground in a manner quite dangerous for the climber's back. It wasn't until after 3pm that the road was cleared, by which time a crowd of 15 or 20 locals had gathered at the red bus outside Bellanboy refinery. People from the Rossport Solidarity Camp went down to the refinery to join the locals and when a tractor left the refinery headed for the Aughoose compound, people got in front of it, stopping it in the road. One person climbed up on top of the roof of the tractor and stayed up for about 20 minutes until he was removed quite violently and arrested. After the person was taken down off the tractor, people sat down in the road and refused to move when given Section 8 orders by the gardaí. About 20 people linked arms and legs and sat in the road in front of the tractor. The 30 or so guards there began forcibly removing people and carrying them to the side of the road, but people kept sitting back down and maintaining a running blockade. Sergeant Butler used pressure points on several people causing severe momentary pain, forcing them to release their grips on each other. But people kept coming back. Protesters would get removed, then sit back down and hold onto each other, get removed, then sit back down again. After about 40 minutes of this, the tractor began reversing back into the refinery gates and the guards got into their vans and left, defeated. The energy of everyone on the road at this point was absolutely incredible. With about 20 locals and about 20 folks from the Rossport Solidarity Camp, everyone was hollering with joy. When the tractor reversed into the refinery and people realised they'd won, many were in tears. Fisherman Pat O'Donnell (the chief) commented that it was “possibly the greatest day of the campaign.” This is the start of a new stage in the resistance against Shell. The momentum is felt by everyone here; it is clear that people have not given up. If you've been meaning to come but just haven't gotten around to it yet, come for a visit. There is plenty to do here including gardening, cooking, site maintenance, talking to locals or writing indymedia articles, as well as getting on top of tractors if you like that kinda thing. The only way to really understand what is happening here is to come and see for yourself. The camp is located in a field in Aughoose, between Pullathomas and Bellanaboy. To contact the camp, ring 085 114 1170 or email rossportsolidaritycamp[at]gmail[dot]com