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“I’m happy with the way the Gardaí have conducted themselves”. Garda Press Officer, Supt. Ray McHugh at Bellanaboy.
In the wake of Tuesday’s dramatic events outside the gates of Shell’s proposed refinery site at Bellanaboy, campaigners were out in force Wednesday and Thursday undeterred by the heavy police presence and inclement weather. For the last two days over 200 local residents and Shell to Sea activists gathered in the semi darkness of the early mornings to voice their opposition to the Corrib gas project and to underline the fact that although work has temporarily recommenced on site, Shell to Sea resistance to this project will continue. In the face of deliberate attempts by Gardaí to opportunistically provoke and inflame the tempers of the protestors at this sensitive time, the nature of the last few days’ protests has been consciously peaceful, as usual, in an effort to diffuse the tension imported by An Garda Síochána.
The effective occupation of the Bellanaboy area by police since Tuesday morning continues. Hundreds of Gardaí who have been drafted into the small community to facilitate Shell’s work remain in the area and have maintained a strong presence outside the proposed refinery site since then. In the same way that Nigeria’s “oil police” violently suppress dissent to Shell’s corporate rape, the Gardaí are effectively Shell’s state provided private army protecting the global giant from the community which it is attempting to destroy. Public roads have been blocked and Garda checkpoints erected. Wednesday morning’s protest witnessed a heavy police presence with luminous coated Gardaí lining the roadside. This morning police presence was more low-key with Gardaí waiting on standby in buses.
The order was given to push the crowd out of the way of the vehicles. Police formed a line and began to force protesters across the road, forming a crush. In response to the danger posed to some of the younger members of the march, a call went out to give ground to the Garda scrum. When the mass of people had been barged over to one side of the road, the police quickly ushered the Shell convoy past. Once the vehicles had gone into the site the march stopped outside of the gates at the police cordon where Willie Corduff and Jerry Cowley addressed the crowd. They assured the Gardaí that the resistance to this project would continue for as long as it takes and Willie called on people to come and keep coming to the gates of Bellanaboy for the next days, weeks, months and years, if necessary, to ensure that Shell abandon their plans for this onshore refinery and agree to build it at sea.