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Blockade Of Bantry Bullies Continues.
rights, freedoms and repression |
Sunday July 09, 2006 22:16 by Niall Harnett - Bantry Solidarity Lodge / Gluaiseacht.
“The ESB are a despicable outfit”. So says Independent Cllr. Jim Lynch from Letterkenny, Co Donegal who stopped at a BCAG demo at Bantry Fair on Friday.
For the past 10 days or so, members of the Bantry Concerned Action Group and their supporters have been blockading the ESB Networks crew and their digger contractors from entering their lands and farms which are marked out for this proposed overhead powerline route which stretches from the 'Murnane & O'Shea Glanta Windfarm Development' at Colomane to the Ballylickey sub-station 14km away.
The ESB have been contracted by Murnane & O’Shea to construct this powerline to connect their wind farm development to the national grid. Murnane & O’Shea know that that the ESB have powers that they don’t have, namely the 1927 Electricity Supply Act which gives them ‘permission’ to enter and even break in through entrances to farms and lands etc “to do whatever we want and you can’t stop us” according to ESB’s Tim Flavin who‘s been described as ‘a pure tool’ by one member of the BCAG. Murnane & O’Shea are in the position where they can abuse the ESB powers to facilitate their private development under the guise of green energy production.
It’s an abuse of the 1927 Act and a business arrangement designed to make more millions for Murnane & O’Shea.
What Murnane & O’Shea and the ESB fail to comprehend is that they don’t have the permission of those who matter most in all this - the landowners - and until the BCAG give them their consent to come in on the land, the ESB will NOT do ‘whatever they want’ and they can and will be stopped.
Meanwhile, Murnane & O’Shea who have remained tight lipped in the shadows until now, straining at their own leashes and letting the ESB do their dirty work for them, have revealed themselves in a recent ‘issue of legal proceedings’ seeking damages, costs and permanent injunctions against 23 of the landowners and ANYONE ELSE WHO INTERFERES OR EVEN WATCHES this ‘overland cable’ project! BCAG members Tadhg Coughlan and Susan Kingston face a separate ESB application for an injunction against them tomorrow Monday 9th at the high court in Dublin at 11.00am.
Bantry Bullies - Murnane & O’Shea and the ESB.
It’s been full on now for over ten days in Bantry and it doesn’t look like letting up this coming week either. Every morning at about 7.30 - 8.00 am the ESB show up with their contractors and machinery at any of several different points along this 14km stretch. While ESB Networks Manager Liam O’Sullivan tends to favour showing up at Joe Burke’s most mornings with a crew, there are other ESB ‘officials’ showing up with different crews at other farms and lands at the same time elsewhere. Some of them tend to gather at the ‘Tralibane’ picnic spot where you can see out over the valleys and hills where they want to erect the pylons and double ‘T’ poles. Inevitably they are spotted by any one of the BCAG who live along the route and within minutes after a few phone calls there are numbers arriving to blockade them and ensure that no digger manages to drive off it’s truck and into someone’s land. Most, if not all of the entrances to farms and land have been blocked with farm machinery and tractors etc since last week. But that’s no guarantee that the ESB won’t use the arm of a digger to turn over and remove any machinery that’s in their way.
Last Tuesday a digger got into a field unnoticed and started to dig a hole for the poles. Our friend Róisín Fagan, a young mother aged 23 who’s staying at the solidarity lodge, stood in the hole he was digging and asked the driver if he had permission to be in the field. The driver swung the arm of the digger out to Róisín’s side and then he swung it back in at her, just missing her as she jumped out of the way. Róisín who has a heart condition went into shock and was brought to hospital before making a statement of complaint to sympathetic Gardaí the next day. The digger guy claimed to see no evil, hear no evil or speak no evil. Róisín was pretty shook but all this has just strengthened her resolve to see the ESB off.
We’ve seen many different diggers, trucks and personalities come and go over the 10 days. Some new ‘officials’ have arrived on the scene to ‘manage’ proceedings at different sites along the route. While Liam O’Sullivan is busy at one spot ‘refusing to communicate whatsoever’ and threatening to report those who ask him questions to the Gardaí for harassment, his other ‘officials’ are taking similar stances throughout the countryside and showing great example in keeping to word of the ‘ESB Corporate Social Responsibility Report’ which promises ‘open communication in relation to the concerns of local communities’. See here for a laugh: http://www.esb.ie/main/downloads/about_esb/corporate_so...y.pdf
Media interest in the blockade is growing as is local support. The numbers on the ground are growing too in terms of both the campaign and physical support. Local activists and some experienced campaigners such as Quentin Gargan and Clare Watson are joining forces with the BCAG and the solidarity crew and a real campaign is growing. A nice demo on Friday at the fair in Bantry Square saw a lot of interest in what was going on and some more offers of support from local people. Caravans are being offered to guard the land overnight too.
The suspicion is that the ESB will want to start work earlier and earlier in the day from before dawn and bring in more digger contractors to assault many more spots at the one time. This places huge demands on local residents who need to be ever watchful and available to man the blockades. It’s hard fuckin’ work lads and lassies and they need more support big time. For anyone who can come and lend a hand, please come to the The Bantry Solidarity Camp & Lodge: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77026
Camp Contacts: Caton 085 7662476 & Róisín 086 1043528
PRESS CONFERENCE at Joe Burke’s farm tomorrow Monday 9th at 10am with Kathy Sinnott MEP, details here: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77129
Contact Quentin Gargan / Clare Watson at 027 52773 / 086 869 3140 for comment or verification.
Wexford ICSA - Irish Cattle & Sheepfarmers Association members travel to Burke’s farm to support the blockade.
Garda Inspector Tony Sugrue clarifying ‘garda jurisdiction‘.
High court discussion meeting with Tadhg and Susan (left of pic) at the solidarity lodge.
Bantry Fair Maids say it all.