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Veteran Shell to Sea supporter becomes President as campaign commemorates baton charge

category mayo | environment | news report author Thursday November 10, 2011 18:34author by CW - Shell to Sea Report this post to the editors

‘The people of Erris deserve protection from any company that seeks to trample over their rights. No company should be outside the law’ – Michael D. Higgins, November 6th, 2006

Veteran Shell to Sea supporter Michael D. Higgins will be sworn in as President of Ireland tomorrow as campaign colleagues gather at Shell’s inland refinery site in north Mayo to mark the fifth anniversary of the infamous Garda baton charge.

Michael D. Higgins: 'Agencies of the State got involved on the side of the developer, rather than on the side of the community'
Michael D. Higgins: 'Agencies of the State got involved on the side of the developer, rather than on the side of the community'

In February 2010, Michael D Higgins said of the Corrib project: “Agencies of the State got involved on the side of the developer, rather than on the side of the community. Given that alternative models were available in other countries, it was scandalous that we proceeded as we did.” [1]

Speaking at a protest at the gates of Shell’s refinery site on November 6th, 2006, Mr Higgins said: “The issue is the right of the people of Erris to have security and safety. They want to be able to live their lives in peace. They deserve protection from any company that seeks to trample over their rights. What is important are issues of justice and no company should be outside the law.”

He continued: “The resources of this planet need to be used responsibly for the people of the planet. The resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland.”

Among President Higgins’ roles will be commander-in-chief of the Irish Army and Navy, which may present a conundrum for the veteran socialist. In the summers of 2008 and 2009, the Irish Navy was deployed in Broadhaven Bay to repel protesters and assist Shell in laying part of the pipeline bringing raw gas from the Corrib gas field to landfall at Glengad Beach. Shell is currently attempting to begin work on the onshore section of the pipeline.

Higgins is not the first prominent Shell to Sea figure to have been appointed to high office. In June 2007, prominent Shell to Sea campaigner Eamon Ryan was appointed Minister for Energy and Natural Resources. This ministry included responsibility for the Corrib Gas project. However, as minister, he abandoned his concerns over Shell’s inland refinery in north Mayo, as well as Ireland’s giveaway licensing terms for oil and gas.
See: Prominent Shell to Sea campaigner to oversee Corrib project: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/83026

On the morning of Higgins’ inauguration as President, local residents and their supporters will gather at 10am at the gates of Shell’s inland refinery. From there they will walk to Bellanaboy Bridge to commemorate a baton charge by Gardaí on November 10th, 2006. The baton charge resulted in numerous injuries to campaigners and is one of the low points of the 11-year struggle against the inland refinery and high pressure pipeline.

They will also be marking the 16th anniversary of the execution of nine activists in Ogoniland, Nigeria. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10th, 1995 for their opposition to Shell’s environmental destruction in the Niger delta.

From 7am, campaigners will carry out mass actions at Shell facilities.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said today: “For 11 years this community has been resisting the combined force of a corrupt State and arrogant multinationals. Shell’s experimental inland refinery in this bog is a monument to corruption and we will continue to resist it.”

1. Mr Higgins was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, 3rd February 2010, during a debate on the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com

Michael D Higgins with other TDs and Senator David Norris at a Shell to Sea press conference in Dublin in November 2006 (Pic: William Hederman)
Michael D Higgins with other TDs and Senator David Norris at a Shell to Sea press conference in Dublin in November 2006 (Pic: William Hederman)

Michael D Higgins with journalist Lorna Siggins at the launch of her book about the Corrib saga
Michael D Higgins with journalist Lorna Siggins at the launch of her book about the Corrib saga

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Fri Nov 11, 2011 16:37Report this post to the editors

It is ironic and coincidental that today is the day a Shell to Sea supporter becomes President of Ireland.

We have suffered too much of Yeats's "stone heart"  dismay at the about-turns of politicians on their promises.

Will Michael D be the exception to the rule?

My hope candle is still alive but fluttering.

May your heroic non-violent struggle in Mayo continue and strengthen from day to day.

You are an inspiration.  May your untiring efforts bring a great and resounding victory.

author by Karinapublication date Sun Nov 13, 2011 19:28Report this post to the editors

That garden gnome is already showing his true colours, by sharing platform today with Kevin Myers. All of the progressive causes he used to support will be forgotten as he has got where he always wanted to be. Ah, isn't it great to be a respectable politican with a massive pension to enjoy while the rest of us suffer from the cuts?

They are all the same. Change will not come from above, you have to fight for it, and as long as Irish people don't fight, we will be forced to pay for their sins. 

author by Stephen Murphypublication date Wed Nov 16, 2011 17:10Report this post to the editors

The 'garden gnome' as you call him has a long CV of  battling on human rights issues. 

(Maybe you might compare and show us your own list of achievements as quickly as you dish out stupid insult.)

None of that can be taken from him, he knew poverty and hardship himself and he probably has a good grasp of what you can work with within the system, rather than some utopia of a far fetched. never never land. 

author by ASP King..publication date Mon Dec 19, 2011 14:07Report this post to the editors

I don't understand why the baton charge is described as a low point in the campaign.. I personally thought it was a fantastic morning....

author by RasTinnypublication date Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:02Report this post to the editors

No disrespect but change to benefit the people has seldom come from the top. At the same time Mr Higgins position not does not give him the power to change much so it would be foolish to put your hope on him even if he had the best of intentions. Power is and will always be with the people. It is weather the people use this power or not. For them to use it they must have the information that will help them make the right decisions. Education (I don't mean schooling) is the key... But back to the point: I'm not holding my breath either...

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