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Dublin Opinion >>
Shramore Five Lock Out Shell.
Tuesday June 05, 2007 19:09 by Max - text & Niall - pics - Shell to Sea
"Peaceful my arse you cunt", Supt. Joe Gannon speaks to protest spokeswoman.
On Tuesday morning, June 5th, a team of five protesters and their support crew successfully halted Shells operation in Erris for five hours through the use of "lock-On" arm tubes. The blockade ended with the five being cut loose from each other by the fire brigade and arrested whilst a crowd of around thirty people cheered them on. Shramore is the final stop on the peat haulage route from the site of the proposed gas refinery at Bellanaboy.
Terence Conway of Shell to Sea in Mayo who was present at the protest said "this is an outrageous deal, the government has consistently put out myths about the benefits of this project for the people of Ireland. There are no benefits of this project for the people of Ireland, there are no royalties and all tax is cost deductible which means that Shell, Statoil and Marathon benefit from the deal while the people of Ireland don't benefit at all. This deal needs to be renegotiated immediately".
Shramore Five Lock On …
The stoppage commenced at 7.00 a.m. at the peat deposition site when the protesters emerged with their support crew. Three unsuspecting security personnel shut the gates (presumably expecting some kind of trespass or site occupation). This gave the team sufficient time to lock themselves together on the ground in front of the gates. They did this through linking their arms together inside a dual tube system laced with concrete and steel rods. The police did not arrive on the scene until ten minutes later when banners reading "stop before it's too late!" had been hung from the gates.
Initially the police response was bemused – they were informed that if they attempted to move the people on the ground it would be very likely that they would break their arms. This was filmed and all the police numbers were relayed to a supporter in Dublin. The mood changed when Superintendent Joe Gannon arrived on the scene and a spokesperson informed him that it was a peaceful protest. "Peaceful my arse you cunt" was the response he made to this woman after which he tore down the banners. About an hour later a more supporters arrived on the scene and the police violently removed all support crew from the gates, dragging a couple of people by the hair including a trained medic. The spokesperson once again read out a statement informing the police that they would break the arms of the protesters if they attempted to move them themselves and that they should instead call the fire brigade to deal with the situation. This was ignored and a medic made a run across the road to the protesters after one of the girls screamed when they tried to move her. The medic was grabbed by five officers and hit a number of times before being thrown to the ground.
Over two hours after the protest began the fire brigade finally arrived. By this point the people had been without water for over an hour and the police had refused them access to a doctor despite them visibly burning in the sun and a number of concerned local residents demanding that the five should be given access to medical attention. The firemen gave them water and began to figure out how to cut the group loose – it took them three hours by which time a larger group of supporters had assembled across the road from them.
This tactic was adopted due to the Garda strategy of violence and intimidation. It is difficult to argue that protesters are being violent when they are lying on the ground and unable to move. Unfortunately the misinformation strategy continues. In one instance whilst the fire brigade were cutting the protesters free, a Garda informed a colleague that one of the girls would need stitches in front of the mother of one of the people locked on. Later the police informed a radio journalist that the arrestees had been charged with firearms offences- in fact they were all charged with minor public order offences. The journalist in question has since stated that they will be making a complaint to the Garda ombudsman.
The protest aimed to demonstrate that the issue of the Corrib controversy will not go away. The protesters hope that members of any prospective government recognise the urgent need for a renegotiation of the deal that will not be at the expense of the people of Ireland or their environment. The great Corrib gas swindle cannot be permitted to happen nor will it be allowed.
The 'Five' will appear at Belmullet District Court next Wednesday 13th June, to answer some minor public order offences. Support welcome.