Protest at the 2nd Annual Oil and Gas Summit, 4-5 June
Yesterday, Wednesday the 4th of June, activists from No Fracking Dublin, Earth First Éire, Shell to Sea, Young Friends of the Earth and other concerned citizens gathered outside the Conrad Hotel on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2 to protest Ireland's reliance on fossil fuels and the giveaway of natural resources by the state.
Protest at the 2nd Annual Oil and Gas Summit
Yesterday, Wednesday the 4th of June, activists from No Fracking Dublin,
Earth First Éire, Shell to Sea, Young Friends of the Earth and other
concerned citizens gathered outside the Conrad Hotel on Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2 to protest Ireland's reliance on fossil fuels and the giveaway of
natural resources by the state.
Inside the hotel, delegates from oil & gas exploration and production
companies, state and semi-state regulatory bodies and industry
representatives met to discuss their prospects in Ireland. Topics include
the Larne-Lough Neagh Basin in Co. Antrim which faces the prospect of
hydraulic fracturing, an overview of Ireland's regulatory regime,
exploration in Northern Ireland and most notably "How will Ireland adapt
to accommodate a burgeoning oil industry?"
The latter topic is key to the protesters anger, namely that the balance
of power lies heavily on the side of the industry and that it effectively
dictates to the state the terms under which they are allowed to drill and
Con Coughlan, a protester from Mayo: "Energy extraction companies have
failed to address the concerns of locals in the past in Ireland and have
been involved in huge corruption scandals abroad. If these companies get
their foot in the door they will devastate beautiful parts of the country
while lining their pockets and when it all goes wrong it will be the
people that will be left to clean up the mess"
Marcus, from Young Friends of the Earth, when asked why he was present
today said: "With the impending fracking operations on our doorstep, its
terrifying to think that our government would allow companies to risk the
health of our environment for a quick quid. We have seen cases of failed
frack wells poisoning aquifers with disastrous effects and now they want
to drill here. There has even been mention of exploration near the Irish
cold water coral reefs on the Atlantic shelf. These delegates have no
concept of the delicate nature of the eco-systems that they are attempting
to work in."
There was a presence outside the hotel from early morning and as the day
wore on more people joined the demonstration, bringing a diversity of
issues into the public forum. Some people handed out leaflets to
passers-by and spoke to them about the threat of fracking, runaway climate
change and the role of the state in handing over control of fossil fuel
deposits to multinationals. Some respectfully approached passing workers
offering trays of dirty, "fracked" water for them to sample. No bottles
At approximately half past two, a group of seven protesters entered the
hotel in an attempt to engage the delegates on the issues that were being
raised outside. They were first blocked in the foyer by members of staff
and management but eventually, and in some confusion, reached the banquet
hall where the summit was taking place.
In attempting to enter the ballroom, several protesters were assaulted by
the management, being struck, shoved to the ground and their limbs
twisted. The higher-ups of the hotel staff were also quite verbal,
threatening an escalation of violence if the protesters did not leave the
One man, who appeared to be in charge, threatened to break the neck of a
demonstrator and was heard to say "I don't care about the planet, burn the
lot. Rape the lot".
Three demonstrators were able to remain inside the ballroom for some time
and debated with the speaker about cases of corruption in Ireland allowing
the oil and gas industry to operate with impunity and unbridled greed. The
speaker was willing to engage and defended himself and his position in the
industry by saying that we should use our vote to stop them, as this is a
In response, Con Coughlan highlights that: "Previous experiences have
taught us that the state is willing to facilitate the industries
activities through lax regulation and corporate policing. The community in
North West Mayo have tried to tackle the state/corporate complex for over
a decade and have endured police brutality and an absence of justice when
attempting to raise the issue."
After a short time the protesters left and Gardai were called to the scene
but no arrests were made. The demonstration continued and grew in numbers
to about 40, holding many colourful banners and placards. While many
members of the public seemed unaware of issues such as fracking, there was
a predominantly positive response from those who stopped, offering
messages of support and solidarity.
The summit continues today, Thursday, and demonstrations will go forward
as planned. Protesters call for and welcome further support in their
continued presence in front of the Conrad Hotel throughout the day.
Caption: Oil & Gas summit disrupted by campaigners in Dublin at Conrad Hotel, June 4th 2014