- College security and Gardaí mobilise to prevent debate -
On midday on Friday 7th March the Institute of Chemical Engineers - and their corporate sponsors, Shell - had organised for an engineer from Shell's Corrib Gas Project to give a talk and workshop for staff and students of the Engineering College at UCC. A cork group formed and mobilsed to attend the lecture, distribute independent information on Corrib and challenge any Shell spin.
The event was advertised very low key, but some UCC students brought it to the attention of some of the wider community of Corkonians involved in solidarity work against Shell & the Corrib Gas Project a few days before the lecture was due to take place.
A mini-group of students and associates formed to highlight the event, attend it, and challenge any untruths or omissions that the Shell propaganda machine may declare.
We broadcast the event online with a subvertised (and more accurate) poster.
At 11.45am outside Boole 3 lecture hall two uniformed Gardaí and four UCC security guards were occupying the entrance doors. Two more undercover detective Gardaí were also patrolling the area.
The UCC security were checking student IDs at the entrance and barred access to anyone without their UCC ID.
Some UCC students were refused entry because they were not from the engineering college or didn't have their ID with them. There were even a couple of transition year work experience students barred form entering and a number of students may have decided the lecture wasn't for them given the sight of the Gardaí at the doors.
We handed out some prepared questions to students on the way in and out to help with healthy debate.
UCC is currently promoting it's "Tradition of Independent Thinking" across the city of Cork and beyond, but this slogan is nothing more than a hollow soundbite while it facilitates Shell lectures on the Corrib Gas project behind guarded closed doors, preventing people with different views attending, and ultimately blocking independent thinking.
The lecture/workshop only lasted about 45 minutes, and about twelve to fifteen students attended. Although our group didn't get inside the lecture, the heavy Garda and security presence hopefully got the students present thinking - some of them may never have heard about Shell or the Corrib Gas project before. The Rossport 5 were jailed in 2005 - a nineteen year old first year student attending the lecture would have only been around nine or 10 at the time.
The event was successful in bringing a new Cork based working group together to challenge Shell propaganda and promote real "independent thinking" in Cork on the continuing Corrib Gas catastrophe.