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Friday 10th November at Bellanaboy.
Monday November 13, 2006 16:17 by Annie Winters & friend. - Shell to Sea.
An account of the day of action, with emphasis on the quarry blockades.
The aim of Friday’s day of action was to prevent Shell working for one day. Campaigners split into groups with the aim of blockading the quarries, where much of Shell’s materials come from, and blockading the ‘Shell highway’ which the workers travel down to get to work.
The Blockade of Lennon's quarry, Glencastle.
A group of protesters gathered at the gates of Lennon’s quarries at 6:30am with the aim of blocking trucks bringing materials to the refinery site. Campaigners shut quarry gates at the main entrance with chains and padlocks and maintained a picket outside the site. Police arrived at the site shortly after 7am, apparently unsure as to how to deal with the situation. Several protesters gained access to the site and were pursued by quarry owner Mr Lennon, and several Gardaí. Mr Lennon and several of his employees physically assaulted one of the campaigners. The other five succeeded in eluding police for a longer period, eventually making their way through the quarry site to the back entrance whereupon they were confronted by several workers and Gardaí who escorted them from the site.
Meanwhile another group of campaigners had assembled on a narrow bridge on the road accessing the quarry’s back entrance and cement works with the similar objective of blockading construction traffic. Campaigners blocked trucks by standing and then sitting on the bridge in front of oncoming trucks. Gardaí arrived at the blockade sometime around 8-8:30 and forcibly removed protesters from the bridge. Campaigners remained on the bridge attempting to block traffic. An exchange ensued between quarry workers and protesters.
At around half nine additional gardaí arrived at the site accompanied by Sgt Connor O’Reilly and Sgt Dermot Butler (MY28). Upon instruction the assembled Gardaí, led by Butler and O’Reilly, began to violently drag protesters from the road and throw them across a barbed wire fence into a low lying field adjacent to the bridge. Several protesters were kicked and punched by the police as they were being dragged away, before being thrown some headfirst across the barbed wire fence down into the field. One man had his glasses snatched from his face and thrown away, another had his camera grabbed and smashed while others had mobile phones taken.
One man from Dublin Shell to Sea, Michael Nolan, became separated from the main group of protesters on the bridge and was badly beaten by Gardaí. Sgt Connor O’Reilly and two other gardaí repeatedly kicked and punched Mr Nolan as he lay on the road. Mr Nolan reported how O’Reilly instructed his accomplices to “Give him more pain.” Mr Nolan was dragged down the road by Sgt O’Reilly in a headlock who then threw him across the barbed wire into the field before wiping his bloodied hands on the man’s coat. Despite the fact that Mr Nolan was in severe pain and could not walk police refused to allow him be safely removed in a car and an ambulance had to be called.
Protesters were detained in the field into which Gardaí had thrown them. Police refused to let campaigners leave and when asked refused to refer to the legislation under which they were operating. When asked to cite the relevant legislation one young guard replied, “pick whichever you like.” Others ignored questions and Sgt Butler responded only with feigned deafness and point blank refusals to give the sought information. Unable to get a satisfactory answer from the guards protesters eventually decided to leave the field cross-country. A small group waited with the injured Mr Nolan for the ambulance to arrive. When the ambulance did arrive Gardaí responded with laughs and sneers as Mr Nolan was tended to.
Barrett's Quarry, Bangor.
Meanwhile around 9am or so a group of protesters made their way to Barrett’s quarry in Bangor with the aim of blocking the site. Campaigners stood in front of the site gates allowing trucks enter but preventing them from exiting the site. After dealing with the blockade at Lennon’s quarries a number of Gardaí made their way to Barrett’s where similar heavy-handedness ensued resulting in several injuries. Police physically removed protesters flinging them aside with kicks and punches. One local man, Pat O’Donnell sustained broken ribs and a camper received a sprained ankle after being kicked in the leg. Two protesters were arrested; they were John Monaghan of Rossport and a woman from Cork Shell to Sea. Both were informed that they had been charged but no charge sheets were issued.
The Shell Highway.
Campaigners gathered at the usual meeting place of the crossroads of the Shell highway and the Belmullet road from 6am. Gardaí had formed a cordon preventing campaigners accessing the Shell highway. Groups of campaigners circumvented the cordon by walking through woodland and bog to access the Shell highway much to the ire of Gardaí. Others forced their way through police lines. A scrum ensued with some campaigners making their way onto the Shell highway while others were dragged back through police lines. Several less successful attempts were made to break police lines and other campaigners continued to access the road through the wood and bog.
When the Shell convoy approached it was blocked by approximately 50 campaigners, who stood in front of the oncoming vehicles. After a warning by Spt Gannon to remove women and children batons were drawn by Gardaí. While some clearly relished the bludgeoning, with one guard being heard to comment, “lets have a baton party,” others were less enthusiastic. Some police exhibited marked reluctance to baton protesters ignoring the order to draw batons or failing to use them. Protesters were dragged away by police who flung several campaigners down a ten-foot drain flanking the road including a local man with back problems who had to be hospitalised as a result of his injuries. The Shell ambulance came for the man but quickly left after Gardai continued to throw protesters in the path of the paramedics. The ambulance drove off and another had to be called which did not arrive for another half an hour during which time the man remained lying in the bottom of a water logged ditch.
When lorries carrying materials attempted to make their way towards the site they were again blocked by campaigners some of whom climbed onto the vehicles. Sgt O’Reilly ordered some of the trucks to drive on with campaigners on the roofs, which they did not do. Campaigners were dragged from the vehicles by Gardaí and the convoy made its way past.
The protest finished around half nine or ten in the pouring rain with most campaigners having returned to work. Shell to Sea campaigners from around the country made their way buses back to Dublin, Cork and Galway.
Campaigners block the exit of Lennon's quarry with a sit down.
Police line up ready for action.
Protesters are flung across a barbed wire fence into a low lying field.