'Treason - Bertie Pumps & Pimps for Shell'.
35 million euro has been spent to upgrade the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre. On Thursday 8th February, Project leader Ger Dollard was there to greet Bertie Ahern and invited guests only, to the opening ceremony of the 'New Visitor Experience'. While Katherine Webster, Project Director, was live on air for Clare fm giving Morning Focus presenter Cian Ó Síocháin a tour of the new centre and celebrating a photo exhibition celebration of traditional musicians and cliff buskers such as Dinny Jim McMahon and the Russell brothers; local residents including 'Timber Tony', another local whistle player and busker, were shamefully being refused entry to the visitor centre in favour of the business people of North Clare, Bertie Ahern, other Fianna Fáilers and their kind.
Cliff traders and buskers, who have traditionally made livelyhoods at the Cliffs long before Clare County Council ever existed, also face injunction contempt threats for failing to conform to Clare County Council’s ‘license contract arrangements’ arrived at through lip-service to a consultation process which effectively amounts to the bullying and intimidation that is typical of what we see all around this country. Ger Dollard, Clare County Council & Cliffs of Moher Project Leader, has made every effort to ‘control’ this project in a similar style to the man he so proudly greeted and led to the red ribbon of his own glory - Bertie Ahern.
This week's Clare People Newspaper has a number of articles in a feature spread on Bertie Ahern’s ‘election platform’ visit to County Clare. Amid headings such as ‘Turning the Cliffs into an election platform’, ‘Tour operators vent anger at cliff’s pricing’, ‘Fine Gael rain on Bertie’s parade’ and ‘Bertie criticised for coastguard snub’, there appears another article most relevant to us Shelltosea’ers … ‘Shell to Sea give a banner welcome’.
The impression is that local print and radio media are rightly cynical about Bertie’s visit and are articulating similar opinions expressed by other individuals and groups, such as Shell to Sea for example. Bertie’s refusal to entertain a media question and answer session, as promised, was seen as an effort to avoid questions on the urgent need to upgrade the coastguard facilities in Doolin.
The members of Doolin Coastguard, who volunteer for training and work in one of the busiest and most dangerous coastguard and cliff rescue stations in the country, constantly brave severe weather and sea conditions to retrieve dead bodies and rescue those involved in regular and traumatic accidents around the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin area. The Doolin Coastguard has been appealing to government for an upgrade to the coastguard facilities in Doolin for many years now. They are well used to their appeals and submissions falling on deaf ears and it came as no surprise to them that Bertie refused to entertain any notion of visiting the coastguard facility. While Bertie was able to attend six Clare functions within the space of three hours, it was clear that he was intent on ignoring the one question that really mattered, and avoided the mere mention, let alone a visit, to the coastguard station in Doolin.
Below: 'SHELL TO SEA GIVE A BANNER WELCOME', Clare People Article by TJ Flynn, Tue 13th Feb ‘07.
He may have dodged media questions for the day, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for Bertie. Clare Shell to Sea arrived at the Cliffs of Moher ahead of the Taoiseach and had unfurled a 100ft banner which read ‘TREASON - BERTIE PUMPS FOR SHELL’, before the official entourage arrived.
“When he passed us we told bertie Ahern he was not welcome in Clare”, said Niall Harnett of Clare Shell to Sea. “We did this on behalf of the people of Clare, Mayo and communities all over the country who will see no benefit from the Shell Corrib Gas Project.”
From there, Mr Ahern travelled to Doolin, home to Niall Harnett, to open the Hotel Doolin and the Shell to Sea group were hot on their heels.
“I’ve never seen so many Gardaí and men in suits in Doolin where I live”, Harnett told The Clare People. “I was personally saddened to see people I know well and respect, going into the new hotel to greet and play music for a man such as Bertie Ahern. He is a dangerous and deeply sinister individual who deserves rebuke wherever he goes for his betrayal of community and environmental values in favour of ‘profit before people’. It is a sad indictment that people are so easily seduced and blinded by the shallow charisma of his power.”
As the Taoiseach was about to cut the ribbon at the hotel, he was once more told he wasn’t welcome in the county. “We told him again, in no uncertain terms, that his treasonable behaviour with regard to our natural resources and his encouragement of Garda violence against peaceful protest meant that he was not welcome in Doolin or Clare.
The work of the group doesn’t end in Doolin. Clare Shell to Sea are planning a picket at Bellanaboy, Mayo, this Friday, February 16.