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Rossport Five man wins $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize
Saturday April 21, 2007 15:03 by Bill Poster - Dublin Shell to Sea
Anti-Shell campaigner Willie Corduff among six winners of world’s largest prize for grassroots environmentalists
Willie Corduff with his wife Mary
on his release from prison in September 2005
Mayo farmer Willie Corduff, who was jailed for three months in 2005 over his opposition to Shell's inland gas refinery at Bellanaboy and high-pressure pipeline through his farm, has been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Awarded annually to six grassroots environmental heroes, the $125,000 no-strings-attached prize is the largest of its kind in the world and is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for the environment.
Related Links: Goldman Environmental Prize | Shell to Sea | Report on last Wednesday's High Court ruling
In 2000, Corduff (53) and his wife Mary began rallying their neighbours in Rossport and nearby communities in the Co Mayo Gaeltacht to challenge the €900 million Corrib gas project. They were concerned about the likely health, safety and environmental effects of the proposed refinery and pipeline in what is an area of outstanding natural beauty and in the catchment area of a lake supplying drinking water to 10,000 people.
The residents called for the gas to be processed at sea, as it is at Kinsale and other similar projects around the globe, and in 2005 the campaign adopted the name Shell to Sea.
In June 2005, Shell E&P Ireland attempted to enter the farms of Corduffs and his neighbours to begin work on a production pipeline to carry untreated, toxic gas through Rossport to the refinery site. When several of the landowners refused Shell access to their property, Corduff and four other men were jailed for 94 days.
Due to the public support generated by the courage of the “Rossport Five”, work on the pipeline and the refinery site was halted. On April 18th, 2007, Justice Mary Laffoy delivered a High Court judgment giving legal vindication to the stance of the Rossport Five and other local landowners, awarding costs against Shell and rendering the original pipeline route formally defunct.
The 2007 Goldman Prize winners also include Icelandic entrepreneur Orri Vigfússon (64), awarded for his 17-year campaign to protect North Atlantic wild salmon by brokering innovative fishing rights buyouts with North Atlantic governments and commercial interests.
Since Vigfússon founded the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), commercial open-sea fishing in the Atlantic has fallen by over 75 per cent, and more than five million North Atlantic salmon have been saved. Vigfússon has prompted driftnet fishing bans by several European states, most recently Ireland, in January 2007.
“This year’s Prize recipients have succeeded in combating some of the most important environmental challenges we face today,” said Goldman Prize founder Richard N. Goldman. “Their commitment in the face of great personal risk inspires us all to think more critically about what ordinary people can do to make a difference.”
The Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony on Monday, April 23, 2007 at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House. They winners will subsequently be honoured at a series of events in Washington DC hosted by, among others, the National Geographic Society and the World Wildlife Fund, and will have the opportunity to meet with US Congressional leaders.
Reacting to the news, Willie Corduff said: "We didn't start this campaign to win any prizes, but it shows that someone out there could see that we were doing the right thing. We always knew we were, but this means people elsewhere in the world saw it that way too.
"Seven years is a long time to be fighting something, trying to get people to listen to you," Corduff said. "I hope more people in Ireland will become aware before it's too late, before the damage is done. There's still time to do this the right way. We'll have more power after this prize; more people in the world will realise what Shell is doing to our community. I hope more people will take on what the Irish government haven't had the courage to."
Corduff and the Shell to Sea campaign have also highlighted the extraordinarily generous terms under which multinationals can exploit gas and oil found under Irish waters. Their campaigning has raised issues of community consent for major infrastructure projects and has inspired other communities in similar situations elsewhere in Ireland.
In October 2006, Shell broke the blockades at Bellanaboy and resumed work on the refinery site. In recent months, campaigners have lodged numerous complaints of Garda violence and abuse close to the site. Several protesters have been hospitalised.
"We can't afford to back down," says Corduff, the first Irish winner in the 18-year history of the Goldman Prize. "There's too much at stake. Things are still as bad as they were. I'll do anything to get this project done the right way."
Corduff was nominated for the prize by Denny Larson, Executive Director of Global Community Monitor, based in San Francisco. “Since visiting Rossport for the first time in 2004, I have been trying to help internationalise their struggle,” Larson said. “I’m very concerned about the environmental injustice and the human rights issue, but also about the precedent this would set for onshore refineries.”
About the Goldman Environmental Prize
The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1990 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 119 people from 70 countries. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.
Endorsed by more than 100 Heads of State, including Ireland, and often referred to as the Nobel Prize for the environment, the Prize rewards grassroots leaders for their outstanding work in protecting the environment and campaigning to preserve vulnerable natural habitats.
Previous Prize winners have been at the center of some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, including seeking justice for victims of environmental disasters at Love Canal and Bhopal, India; leading the fight for dolphin-safe tuna; fighting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and exposing Monsanto’s role in introducing the rBGH hormone into the US dairy industry.
Since receiving a Goldman Prize, eight winners have been appointed or elected to national office in their countries, including several who became ministers of the environment. The 1991 Goldman Prize winner for Africa, Wangari Maathai, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. The 1995 winner for Africa, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was executed over his opposition to Shell's activities in Ogoniland in the Niger delta.
The 2007 Goldman Prize Winners are:
Europe: Willie Corduff (53) Ireland: In the small farming community of Rossport, Corduff and a group of fellow local residents successfully forced Shell Oil to halt construction on an unprecedented, high-pressure gas pipeline through their land. They are still campaigning to have the gas processed at sea, rather than at an inland refinery.
Islands & Island Nations: Orri Vigfússon (64) Iceland: With business savvy and an unwavering commitment to reverse the near-extinction of wild North Atlantic salmon, Vigfússon brokered huge international fishing rights buyouts with governments and commercial interests, helping bring to an end destructive commercial salmon fishing in the region.
North America: Sophia Rabliauskas (47) Canada: Working on behalf of the Poplar River First Nation, Rabliauskas succeeded in securing interim protection for a portion of the boreal forest of Manitoba, effectively preventing destructive logging and hydro-power development while calling on government and international agencies to permanently protect the region.
Africa: Hammerskjoeld Simwinga (45) Zambia: In Zambia’s North Luangwa Valley, where rampant illegal wildlife poaching decimated the wild elephant population and left villagers living in extreme poverty, Simwinga created an innovative sustainable community development program that successfully restored wildlife and transformed this poverty-stricken area.
Asia: Ts. Munkhbayar (40) Mongolia: Munkhbayar successfully worked with government and grassroots organizations to shut down destructive mining operations along Mongolia’s scarce waterways. Through public education and political lobbying, Munkhbayar has effectively protected Mongolia’s precious water resources from additional unregulated mining.
South & Central America: Julio Cusurichi Palacios (36) Peru: In the remote Peruvian Amazon, Cusurichi secured a national reserve to protect both sensitive rain forest ecosystems and the rights of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation from the devastating effects of logging and mining.
Willie Corduff gives the thumbs up as Micheál Ó Seighin speaks to reporters following their release from prison on Sept 30, 2005
Willie Corduff appeals to a Gardawho is filming at the daily pre-dawn protest close to Shell's proposed gas refinery at Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, October 2006
Willie Corduff with his wife Mary at the door of their farmhouse in Rossport, Co Mayo
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You got all of Europe there & represent a World. It's not just a local issue for local people anymore is it? Look at that list. Well done Rossport.
SHELL TO SEA PRESS RELEASE 21/04/07 - Goldman Environmental Prize
The news of the upcoming award of the Goldman Environmental Prize to Rossport Five member Willie Corduff is a cause for great celebration, not only in County Mayo but on the whole island of Ireland. Everyone involved in the Shell To Sea campaign can now feel part of something important on the international stage, and we extend our heartiest congratulations to Willie and his family.
Willie’s stance, along with that of Brid McGarry, the Rossport Five as a whole and Shell To Sea groups worldwide has once again been vindicated, proving that local communities can have an impact no matter how large the obstacle appears to be.
The Prize will be one of six awards bestowed this year, covering all the Earth’s continents and Island nations, and this will be the first time in the Goldman’s eighteen-year history that Ireland has been so honoured. Shell To Sea would also like to congratulate all the other recipients from Iceland, Canada, Zambia, Mongolia and Peru, and wish them continued success in their ongoing endeavours.
For comment or verification call John Monaghan on +353 86 3123439
Short video of Willie Corduff at the protests at Bellanaboy :
I notice that RTE have very recently added an article on this subject at http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0421/corduffw.html .
I wonder what Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan and his grand array of legal colleagues, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, will make of all this? More at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Rossport+Five%2C+H...earch .
Also, it's possible I suppose that this piece of news will send our amazing Government "over the moon" - and if not, I (for one) certainly hope they'll end up somewhere like that by the time the next General Election is over, and the farther away from power they all end up, the better it will suit me.
Willie Corduff, Rossport 5 and Shell to Sea, you are the pride of Ireland tonight! You have done more for Environmental Awareness in Ireland than our so-called Minister for Environment could ever do, and you have shown more courage and integrity than any of our elected representatives could ever do. God bless you all for your strength and determination, and thank you from those of us who care about our country. Enjoy your celebrations!
Firstly, well done to Willie Corduff and congratulations to him.
Will he have to pay tax on his award ?
This is NOT a snipe. I imagine that certain people in certain places might like to play dirty and demigrate his award by trying to embarrass him by raising a tax issue around his award !!
Just give it time before that piece of dirt gets thrown at Willie.....
In the meantime, well done again.
Congrats Willie,just as a matter of interest will you be donating this to the Shell to Sea campaign.It would be disgraceful if not.
Well done Willie!
Nobody can ever again doubt your bona fides.
Rossport and Mayo should celebrate their newest hero
- I hope the regional media is paying attention. If Mid-West or any other
medium fails to cover this they will really show their hand.
we'll be watching and listening.
The heading in the Irish Times uses the word rebel to describe Corduff. Not an appropriate word in this era of active citizenship. Corduff is an exemplary citizen as are all those who take care of the nation in a selfless way.
Well done Willie leader of the Rossport 5. You are a hero amung men. Hopefully this will inspire more people to join the protest. This is a vital time. People must now talk with their feet. We need hundreds of people at the gate of the site an monday morning to celebrate this great victory. Willie should consider running for high office. He is a modern hero.
where the Rospuda Valley in the beautifully unspoilt north-eastern part of this country may unfortunately face dissection by the Via Baltica (http://www.viabalticainfo.org/spip.php?rubrique2). The European Commission recently referred the Polish gvt. to the European Court of Justice for breaching EU Environmental Law by planning construction of the expressway through Rospuda Valley, which is a Natura 2000 protected area.
The campaigning work and consistent resistance by the Rossport 5, Brid McG, local residents, the Shell to Sea campaign and many other Irish and International citizens is an inspiration to all working for a greener Poland and environmentally sustainable world.
Battle in the Rospuda Valley heats up
Willie Corduff is due to be interviewed from San Francisco on This Week, RTE radio's flagship current affairs show: today, Sunday from 1pm to 2pm. Before that (if you're in Dublin), Micheal O Seighin is due to be on NEAR FM, 90.3fm between 12 and 1.
On Saturday, a report about Willie's award was the third headline and third story on the RTE tv news at 6pm and 9pm (ahead of Bertie's grandsons).
There's a great feature article about Willie Corduff in the San Francisco Chronicle, published today, Sunday. But when you get to the end of the story, you see three Google paid-for links. And the first one is what? You guessed it. Shell's website, www.corribgas.com
Here's the article:
Tale of rural Irishman who blocked oil giant
Farmer rallied town and nation to halt Shell's gas pipeline
Rossport, Ireland -- Willie Corduff is a quiet man who hates arguments. But when Shell E&P Ireland said it would build a $1.1 billion pipeline and refinery near his front yard in this small Irish village in County Mayo, the father of six fought back.
There are now stories about Willie and Shell/Mayo in various newspapers around the world. Find them by going to news.google.com
There'll be more on Monday and after and I'll compile a set of links when more are published.
This is amazing news, fair play to Willie Corduff.
Well done Willie, Mary and all the others over there.
Bobbie, Lisa (cousins) in Scotland
"Following subsequent protests, the Shell consortium agreed last year to find a new route for the line farther away from homes. Although Shell officials have said the project is safe and that they plan to consult with the local community for a new route, Mr. Corduff says he will continue pushing for the gas to be refined at sea and away from populated areas."
The above text has been taken from what appears to be a Wall Street Journal article which Royal Dutch Shell have put on their web site at the following page address:
Regardless of whether the above quote represents a "sour note" or not, it has to great news (I believe) - for local environments everywhere - that the very prestigious and widely read "Wall Street Journal" seems to have published the story.
Well done. Well deserved. Good luck for the future of Shell to Sea. I hope this State takes notice and that we witness no further disgraceful violence by State forces against the Shell to Sea protestors in Mayo.
We got pushed around and cursed at . MY 28 excelling at that.
BBC mentions Willy Corduff but gave emphasis to the wonderful news that an another of this year's Nature Nobels has assured the future of salmon. Salmon is safe - smoked salmon is safe. Cat food is safe. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6571241.stm
I presume Mr Corduff didn't jump on a plane to California with acceptance speech in hand - but this award (the first) is a very good reason for commercial and national state media attention. There should be photos and interviews - Mayo has a hero - Ireland has a hero. Our heroes are often "rebels" - we like them that way. So far the news hasn't actually traveled that far, the awards are announced on "World Earth Day" and a quick check of the news-wires shows just a handful of mostly specialist magazines picking up on them. So if you've nothing else to do - click on the Goldman prize link - familiarise yourself with the history and prestige of the award & then get on the phone to the newspapers & radio - don't wait for them to do it.
"So far the news hasn't actually traveled that far ... and a quick check of the news-wires shows just a handful of mostly specialist magazines picking up on them"
My God, you're standards are high.
Do a search for "Corduff" on Google News and you find the story in news media that include the following:
International Herald Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
Wall Street Journal
CBC News (Canada)
(Some paid-for sites don't show up on this list, e.g. The Irish Times, so there could be other high-profile media carrying the story). Maybe you'll be happy if Willie is on the next Celebrity Big Brother?
But I do agree that the media in Ireland need to be shamed into giving it more coverage. I would suggest people emailing letters or comments, saying something like: I'm confused - the world's big news media are reporting that a Mayo farmer has won the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize and you haven't mentioned it /have barely mentioned it. Aren't you missing out on one of the great human interest stories of our time? ... Farmer from the Gaeltacht whose only time away from his six children was three months in jail is now being celebrated by the movers and shakers in the US. The Irish government has derided Rossport's campaigners, but now they will have an audience with members of the US congress.
The Sunday Indepedent, News of the World and Irish Star on Sunday all had very short items. Don't think any other papers had it, apart from The Irish Times, which had a big feature on it on Saturday.
Image on MSNBC (Corduff is centre back)
Irish radio and tv has covered it. Most of the main ones, with interviews on RTE radio one and Mid-West Radio (Mayo) and BBC Ulster. RTE TV news on Sat had a big report.
Fair play to Willie Corduff and all the Rossport protestors.
Willie Corduff is due to be interviewed live on BBC World TV news at 9.30pm tonight, Monday. You have to have satellite to watch that. I don't know if it's available on the web. Here's the web page for that programme.
Of course, there's a Shell ad on the right hand side. BBC World is commercial, unlike domestic BBC. It's almost as if Shell finds out when an anti-Shell person is due to be on and takes an ad. They probably bought ads during the tv coverage of Ken Saro Wiwa's funeral.
Great news for Shell to Sea! Well done Willie & all. More publicity, more support. Fair play to all courageous souls who stood against this destructive land-grab. Sympathisers everywhere, please get y'selves to Erris & show support. Shell to Sea cannot be defeated! See you there.
Dear Mr. Corduff,
I worry about Ireland's natural beauty being destroyed by developers and other money mongers, and that many of the community don't recognize the damage being done.
Thank you so much for your courage and integrity. What an accomplishment! I am so impressed by the Rossport 5's dedication to protect our homeland. Being from Mayo myself and working in the environmental arena here in the San Francisco Bay area, I am so proud and comforted by your work. Your legacy will give other people the courage to fight their environmental Goliath. God bless you and your family, and the other families involved in this worthwhile battle.
Congratulations to Willie Corduff and his family, to the other four Rossport men who had to go to jail, and to the many people tirelessly supporting them.
Your well-earned international recognition in winning the prestigious Goldman Prize can but validate and forward your case.
To paraphrase a fellow provincial, a certain late poet Yeats:
May all you " Indomitable Irishry"
continue in good health and mindset to enlighten "the fingers in the greasy till" ..........
- Go n-eiri an t-adh libh go leir.
- Beir bua agus breis anois.
Ama Carey-Barr, Michigan. USA
Congratulations Willie on your brave fight to save Rossport and by doing so, the Irish environment.
Also to Micheal, Vincent, Philip Brendan and Breege and all at Shell to Sea for the honour this award has brought to Mayo and Ireland.
We are so proud of you all. We support you all the way.
Ethel & Tom Corduff and family, London
Mayo's first woman Mary Robinson U.N High Commissioner , when elected started her speech with "Mná na hÉireann", meaning women of Ireland.
Now, Willie its your turn - "Fír na hEireann" Men of Ireland.!!!!,
Let us hope that the E.P.A. will not now give two fingers to the Goldman Environmental Prize.
This is probably its last chance to salvage any credibility following the drinking-water debacle.
We know that Willie got it. Most Irish politicians don't get it.
The question is - does the E.P.A. 'get it'?
Yes it would appear that by awarding willie this prize it may help to quiet him down in the long run, after all will has been seen as the empty vessel in various media reports as past year
maybe i am just cynical/paronid but even the announcment of the inqury into the gardai at ballinaboy (weeks before election) looks like spin.
gardaí investigating gardaí! hhhhhmmmm don't hold yer breath!
Does this mean that certain guards will be charged with assault ?
Does this also mean that certain protestors will also be charged with assault ?
One wrong doesn't make two wrongs, Sunny Jim. The Guards have never waited to get hit before they hit SCS protestors. Lots of civilians have been assaulted at the Bellinaboy protests, some badly, but strangely, despite many complaints to Belmullet Garda station, offers to identify the culprits etc., no arrests have been made. Why do you think that is? If a Guard was assaulted at any time, be assured someone would be arrested (etc., you know the drill) very, very quickly. They're not shy.
The Guards have never waited to get hit before they hit SCS protestors.
What do you call sts attempt to drive a van through a line of guards last year?.
Lots of civilians have been assaulted at the Bellinaboy protests, some badly, but strangely, despite many complaints to Belmullet Garda station, offers to identify the culprits etc., no arrests have been made.
So your saying that no protestors have been arrested as past year ? .
Why do you think that is? If a Guard was assaulted at any time, be assured someone would be arrested (etc., you know the drill) very, very quickly. They're not shy.
The reason why they are not charging protestors is because thats would only play in to sts claiming that they are the ones getting bullied , harrased etc etc.
"Does this also mean that certain protestors will also be charged with assault ?"
three people have recieved summons to appear in court (all EIFA members) on charges arising from last octobers protests.
they recieved the summons approx 3 weeks ago, it was in the IP newspaper. check it out.
AlJazeera 12 min documentary about the fight in Rossport
People & Power looks at how one community in Ireland is taking on an oil consortium headed by Shell.
and on mayday here in barcelona we screened the revolt vids on rossport on the walls of our social centre CSO el barco
Paddys weekend voyage to the magical island of Irlanda
CSOAm El Barco
Peggy Ni Sheighin tells it like it is, to an audience in Barcelona : Revolt Rossport filim screened in BCN on Paddys day
Rossport to Horta : Jon Baker tells of the solidarity camps eco principles
The issue of the guards is only a distraction.
The refinery is now as good as dead. The ff/pd govt. is finished. Bertie has seen to that.
The new irish govt. will not allow ltself to be embarassed before the world
by the actions of its gombeen predecessors.
The refinery is now as good as dead, how do you arrive at this conclusion jack ? , from where myself and many others this is far from finished , its only starting to ramp up.
Certainaly the outlook looks dark for ff/pd in regards to forming the next government, however the rest of the main stream parties have offered no alternitive.
As and if there is a new government do you honestly think that they would run shell from the country ???? That would be embarrassing.
There is no chance of either the EPA or the next government stopping this refinery.
Apart from a few personal stories of how concerned and worried some people are about the possible effects of the refinery/pipeline, the EPA discovered nothing new from the oral hearing.
Therefore why would they refuse a IPPC licence which they have indicated that they are satisfied will have no adverse effect on people or environment.
I wonder where were all the scare stories of emissions causing all sorts of cancers and the discharge to sea making our waters toxic?
maybe the scare mongers were smart enough not to try that crap when they knew how foolish they would be proven by science. (carramore lake being one example).
The next government will have either FF or FG as the main party, both of which state the refinery should be built at bellinaboy.
How many of the mainstream parties have made Corrib/gas an issue in their election promises, NONE, the only supporters of S2S, Cowley,Murray,Bree will probably NOT get elected.
Gerry Cowley is being interviewed on Mid West radio this morning (Friday) at 10,am. I have asked them to ask him about the Idea of having his vote as a referendum on support for S2S.
I predict he will attempt to rubbish the idea,
Anybody that listened to the interview with Cowley must agree that he is indeed a coward, and has just betrayed the S2S campaign.
He tried to evade answering the question (which I submitted) but tommy marren pushed him to answer, at which stage he done a Judas./Micheal Collins.
That is what I think happened, maybe some of the S2S group thinks differently?.
Willie,whowouldyou say to vote for now in the election? I';m getting confused reading things some people are saying one thing and others another thing
SD, in answer to your questions:
Was any guard hit by the van? No. Maura Harrington drove slowly to avoid just such an event. Unlike a security guard who drove a jeep at speed at two protestors in mid-April.
Despite the many assaults made by Gardaí on peaceful protestors, offers to identify the culprits and video evidence, no arrests OF GUARDS have been made, Sunny Day. To my knowledge, not one guard has been arrested for assault, despite the frequency of these assaults. Nor suspended. Nor fired. Nor demoted. Nor transferred. Garda brutality is illegal, and their oath both prohibits them from it and obliges them to investigate it when it occurs. Their oath has not stopped them, nor to my knowledge have they or are they actively investigating any of these incidents. They are disgracing themselves and their uniform.
Do you really think a Garda would allow himself to be assaulted and not arrest the attacker for fear of giving them publicity? Very strange. Ask any guard you know if that's what they would do. As well, go on YouTube, check out the many clips of the protests. Dig out the RTÉ footage. See can you find any instances of Guards being assaulted and turning the other cheek. Or even just being assaulted. If you can, please let me know. I'd be blown away.