the solidarity camp is back...
Last weekend Rossport Solidarity Camp was re-opened. The origin of the camp was the Solidarity Gathering on the first weekend in June last year. This happened days after Shell were due to start work at Glengad, a beach across the estuary from Rossport, work which has yet to commence. This gathering also saw the inauguration of the national wing of Shell to Sea.
The background to these events was attempts to enter farmlands to build the Rossport part of the pipeline, and injunctions from the High Court. (There had been a NUI Galway Ecology Society visit to the area in February). The camp began as Rossport residents prevented Shell’s trucks from entering their village with a ‘park in’. Another notable event at that time, the middle of June, was a visit to the area by some shareholders, who got a bit of a shock.
With the imprisonment of Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath and Micheal O‘Seighin, on the 29th of June, mass picketing began on all active Shell sites in Erris, see Rossport Resistance Steps Up a Gear, Report from Rossport, Photo Report from Rossport, A Few Days of Struggle in North West Mayo.
At this time the camp got up and running, in Rossport, and with an off-shoot in Glengad, and occasional other off-shoots in various parts of the proposed pipeline route. Campers picketed the Rossport compound, which was successfully closed down, and the camp also served as a sort of info-point to where people could travel and learn about what is happening. Good reports from the camp last summer are here and here.
Last year the camp functioned in a very ad hoc manner, as it was almost spontaneous in its lack of pre-planning, sustained equipment wise in a very haphazard manner, with a mix of donations from sympathisers, and some campers’ personal property.
Publicity-wise there was not much beyond indymedia postings, and even those have often been sparse, or rushed.
This year we are aiming at very different camp, having had forewarning!
In publicity terms we went on two speaking tours of Britain, in October and in February, have spoken at many public meetings in Ireland, most recently in Cork, and the re-opening of the camp was preceded by solidarity actions. Also many more posters and leaflets will soon be available, and the website is being spruced up. In addition we now have a media team, and have been covered by the major papers and the RTE news.
In logistics terms we are in the process of acquiring another, larger, marquee, and are sorting out electricity and water supply. At the moment, after a few days, the camp has more structures than it had by the end of September last year.
Thirty people travelled to Rossport Co. Mayo this weekend to help campers and locals in the re-erection of Rossport Solidarity Camp. Supporters and campaigners came from all over Ireland as well as New Zealand, Sweden, Holland and England for the reopening of the camp, which will act as a physical and symbolic block to Shell’ s pipeline and inland gas refinery due for construction last year, and so far halted due to a campaign of non-violent direct action.
Last summer the camp was built in Rossport on the proposed route of the pipeline but this year it is situated on the landfall site of the pipeline at a place called Glengad. The camp is located on a stretch of beach surrounded by machairs overlooking the currently beautiful Broadhaven Bay. Due to the machairs being a sensitive ecosystem we are taking steps to ensure the camp will not have a negative effect on them. The ethos of the camp is to have as low an impact as possible on this rare ecosystem. More reports will follow on the building of the camp and the environmentally friendly and sustainable building and living methods we are using.
This weekend’s work saw the camp marquee being pitched among the dunes and several benders being constructed. A grey water system, fire pits and composting facilities were also built and pathways were cordoned off through the dunes to prevent their disturbance. Willie Corduff helped to move materials to the campsite using his tractor and trailer and several other locals including Terence Conway, Ray Corduff and Sean Harrington to name a few joined with campers in the construction. Delicious vegan food was prepared by the Bitchin’ Kitchen radical cookin’ collective.
Much of the equipment and material used to build the camp was donated and collected by various groups and individuals including Cork Shell to Sea and Greenpeace. The camp is being built to facilitate up to fifty people and it is hoped that people from all over Ireland and further afield will visit, help in whatever way they can, find out more and show their solidarity with the people of Erris.
Tonight’s local Shell to Sea meeting in Glenamoy concluded with local campaigners expressing their support and a big ‘welcome back’ to the Rossport Solidarity Camp’. It was pointed out by a number of people that Rossport Solidarity Camp and the local Shell to Sea campaign are one. We look forward to another summer of cooperative resistance against the state and their mates in big business.
Construction of the camp is ongoing. Everyone regardless of experience is welcome to come and lend a hand in whatever way they can.