Shell begins work on Landfall Valve Installation.
Yesterday morning residents of Aghoos, Pollathomas and Glengad were woken by a convoy of heavy vehicles heading in the direction of Glengad. One person drove down to Glengad to see what was happening. At about 7.20am he was stopped by a Garda in Glengad who said the road is blocked. When asked who was blocking the road the Garda said “the Shell boys are doing a bit of work”.
Walking down past the squad car about 100 meters towards where Shell had the pipe-pull in compound during the summers of 2008 and 2009, a line of security guards were strung across the road. As he went forward (with a video camera) they withdrew to the edge of the road across the newly opened site entrance. There were about 25 security guards at the entrance and about another 30 inside the compound. A number of diggers and lorries carrying fencing were already inside the field. Shell and Roadbridge workers were doing fencing work inside.
A number of Gardaí were also present including Sgt Butler, Sgt Gill and Superintendant Diskin. When asked what right had Shell to block the road no lawful reply was gained.
Afterwards as more lorries with fencing arrived, IRMS security guards came across the road preventing the investigator from moving. When Sgt. Butler was asked for assistance all he did was assist IRMS. No reason or law was used just force.
Shortly after 9am about 10 people came from the camp back down to Glengad for a look at what was going on. Shell had temporary fences up stretching from the road about 100 meters down either side of the field towards the sea. The lorries inside were carrying stronger palisade fencing to replace the temporary fencing already up. We walked around the fenced off section and it seemed like there was little we could do.
We went back onto the road. All machinery movement inside the field stopped.
There were two lorries near the gate unloaded and ready to leave the site. Shell didn’t want to open the security ring with us hanging around. Surely enough about 10 minutes later a number of Garda vehicles arrived.
The scenario was obvious. IRMS don’t have any more right to be on the road than we do so they called in the Gardaí to do the dirty work. IRMS director Jim Farrell walked down to the Garda Jeep and spoke in the window briefly. Moments later the Gardaí were out on the road in numbers, shortly followed by IRMS. The Shell lorries started up and the Gardaí started grabbing people on the road holding them in place or dragging and pushing people into the ditch. Again no law was used or quoted – just force.
At about 11am we headed back to the camp. Later that day, five or six Garda vehicles pulled up outside the camp in Aghoos. They advanced towards the gate from both directions on the road forming a barrier across our gate. Some campers tried to exit and were blocked, caught hold of and held in place. Then another convoy of Shell machinery passed by headed towards Glengad. Then the Gardaí walked back to their vehicles and left. This morning at 7.30am a similar convoy passed through to Glengad.
It’s never good to see Shell advance into another section of the project, but it hasn’t all been one-way traffic. With relatively modest numbers on Saturday an early morning action with Shell to Sea campaigners and visitors from some of the Occupy Camps shut down the Aghoos tunnelling site for the day. See article: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/101331
On Tuesday mornings between 8am and 10am the local protest at Ballinaboy regularly holds up haulage. More broadly The Corrib Gas project is 11 years behind schedule, with Shell only this year admitting that they are a year behind even last year’s forecast.
The current work is part of the onshore pipeline section from Glengad to Ballinaboy. It is land based requiring an estimated 50,000 truck movements to complete – it can and is being blocked & delayed at many points along the haulage route.
If you can come up to the Day of Solidarity organised for Friday the 17th of February & stay for the weekend if possible. Direct action has been critical tactic in the campaign so far and it looks like that will continue. But for it to be as safe and effective as possible it needs many support roles. There are lots of other ways to get involved – you could come visit the area, sign up for email updates on www.shelltosea.com and keep this issue in the public domain. If you could organise a fundraiser and/or talk in your area local campaigners are always willing to travel to speak.
Caption: partners in crime