Independent Media Centre Ireland

Shell 2 Sea stop drilling on an Special Area of Conservation

category mayo | environment | feature author Wednesday October 24, 2007 23:25author by Rudiger - S2S

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"I don't care about the law, I'm a member of the Gardaí"

Shell to Sea protestors yesterday successfully stopped Shell and RPS drilling on an SAC. Yesterday afternoon, Shell’s drilling work on the SAC known as the Glengad Bog Complex was successfully halted and Shell (& RPS) were forced to remove their equipment from the area. For the past 3 days Shell had been drilling test bore holes in the area surrounding Rossport Solidarity Camp.

Related Links: Rossport Still Resists | 14th Sept at Bellanaboy | Shell pipeline letters handed back | Rossport Solidarity Camp Eviction Report | Norway profits while Irish people face jail | Community outrage over unjust sentencing | NGO Report Slams Garda abuse in Mayo | Indymedia Rossport Archive

At around 1.30pm yesterday a small group of locals approached where the drilling was going on and sought from the workers the permission they had to drill on the SAC. There was a portacabin, 2 trailers, 2 jeeps and the drilling machine inside temporary fencing along with about 10 workers around the site. An RPS employee told the group that they believed they weren’t on the SAC and that the maps they had received from RPS showed they weren’t on the SAC. She admitted that they didn’t have permission to drill the bore holes on the SAC. Vincent McGrath then showed her the maps he had from the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) which showed that they were in fact on the SAC and that they would have to stop they’re work. He informed her that in-order to drill bore holes on an SAC, the permission of the Minister for the Environment was needed and that until this permission was produced no further work would be allowed to proceed.
There was then about an hour stand-off in which no work was done until the gardaí arrived. Once about 20 gardaí had arrived at the scene, the new superintendent for Belmullet John Gilligan went over to the workers and told them to start up the machines again and continue with the work. He then proceeded over to the protestors where he was informed of the situation regarding the SAC, and that illegal work was being carried out. He basically said that he didn’t care about any of it and warned the protestors that if they didn’t leave the area, they would be removed. The protestors said that they wouldn’t leave and that if they were doing something wrong then they should be arrested. Supt. Gilligan then said that the protestors had 5 minutes to consider they’re options following which they would be removed. He then retired back to the group of gardaí that were on one side of the fencing. After about a minute the gardaí began surrounding the temporary fencing, however before they could close off access, a member of Rossport Solidarity Camp jumped over the temporary fencing and climbed the drilling machine. This seemed to take the gardaí by total surprise and it took them a few minutes to regroup while the workers turned off the drilling machine. It also changed the focus of the gardaí, with the gardaí now trying to coax down the climber instead of trying to forcibly remove the protestors.
On a few occasions, Supt. Gilligan asked the climber to come down because of safety to himself, but the climber said that he felt in no danger. After about a hour, Superintendent Gilligan told the protestors that if the climber came down then the equipment would be packed up and removed from the site. Vincent McGrath then succeeded where the guards had failed in talking down the climber. I believe it is a sign that the gardaí knew they are on shaky legal ground, that the climber then was allowed to rejoin the group of protesters without ever even being cautioned by the gardaí.

It should be pointed out that for the last two mornings, the gardaí have removed protestors from the gates leading to the drilling site even though it has been pointed out to them that the drilling is going on illegally in an SAC and also that the road that is being used down to the shore doesn’t have planning permission. Last week, 3 locals also stopped Shell from drilling on a right of way in Rossport that is about ½ mile away from any of the 3 remaining proposed routes. This again shows that Shell and their stooges believe they can get away with anything they like and they would too only for the commitment and strength of the people who won’t let their community be turned into a Shell fiefdom.

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Climber on the drilling machine
Climber on the drilling machine

Clearing out the drilling equipment
Clearing out the drilling equipment

Comments (31 of 31)

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author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 13:48author address author phone

Great to see this post - fair dues to all concerned!

Heavy machinery in and around that area seems to hold some type of fascination for us - we have to get up close and personal!!

Beir bua.

author by nonepublication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 13:57author address author phone for detailed maps aerial photos and SAC areas.

author by Niallpublication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 14:49author address author phone

Well Done.

Superintendent Gilligan - happy to engage in selective application and abuse of the power of law. No surprise there.

Whose Cops? Shell's Cops.

author by LPpublication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 15:43author address author phone

Hold on. "...illegal work was being carried out. He (Gilligan) basically said that he didn’t care about any of it..." If the guards refuse to enforce the law, as sure as night follows day people will take the law into their own hands, and the guards will have only themselves to blame. This "get out of here, or else" bluff bullshit won't wash anymore. We all know the guards' hands are tied by the government. Except in exceptional circumstances, they aren't allowed to arrest us. We should be taking full advantage of that at every opportunity

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author by tcopublication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 20:06author address author phone

Just so we have this clear -
the law is being broken, the watching superintendent is informed that the law is being broken,
not only does he then encourage further breaking of the law but he threatens the complainants.
What's his job again?

38. Where an offence under these regulations has been committed by a body corporate and it is proved to have been so committed with the consent or connivance of, or, to be attributable to any neglect on the part of any person who, when the offence was committed, was a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, or a person purporting to act in any such capacity, that person, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished as if guilty of the first-mentioned offence.

39. A person who is guilty of an offence —
( a ) under Regulation 11 shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000, or
( b ) under any other provision of these Regulations shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,500 or to 6 months imprisonment or to both.

For the record-
Complaints against RPS' activities should now be made at a garda station.

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author by ?publication date Wed Oct 24, 2007 23:34author address author phone

RPS excuse mt ignorance but what's that?

author by SRpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 00:06author address author phone

RPS are Shell's planning and engineering consultants.

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author by Joepublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 06:35author address author phone

Excellent article and well done on the action but perhaps you should spell out the titles properly instead of using initials which may not be immediately clear to the rest of us. I presume SAC means Special Area of Conservation and not Sea Angling Club?

author by gav - tnc corcaípublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:19author address author phone

Shell Are Criminals!
System Assisting Corporations!
Subdue All Citizens!

because its definitely not an area of special conservation - unless your on about conserving shells profits - shame on all you useless politician's! shell chun sáile abú!

author by Jimpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 18:33author address author phone

I see the penalties have been posted but exactly what law has been broken ??

author by tcopublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 19:58author address author phone

I won't bore you with lengthy details. You can read it yourself in sections 14 etc.

author by JMpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 21:34author address Rossportauthor phone

More details of the Glengad drilling operation

map showing borehole locations
map showing borehole locations

borehole number 1
borehole number 1

traffic damage
traffic damage

drilling in operation
drilling in operation

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author by Northern Lightpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 21:35author address author phone

Can't An Taisce or Coastwatch or some organisation that actually cares about the coastal SAC's get an injunction to stop the drilling? Sounds compleately ridiculas (from a legal pointof view) that the solidarity camp has to close because it's on an SAC but even more harmful drilling can go ahead in the next field...

author by JMpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 21:41author address Rossportauthor phone

four more

remnants of the Solidarity Camp viewed from the drilling site
remnants of the Solidarity Camp viewed from the drilling site

Vincent McGrath showing the SAC map and drilling area
Vincent McGrath showing the SAC map and drilling area

stopping work on the drilling machine
stopping work on the drilling machine

on top of the rig
on top of the rig

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author by JMpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 21:46author address Rossportauthor phone

last four

the overall scene
the overall scene

drilling gear being removed
drilling gear being removed

Gardai leaving
Gardai leaving

local people leaving
local people leaving

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author by jjpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 22:48author address author phone

Now we know why Mayo CC were in such a hurry to remove the Solidarity Camp.

The blatant hypocrisy and double-standards of the officials in MCC has to be seen to be believed.

I trust this episode will be remembered for the next occasion when MCC officials claim to be
acting to protect the environment.
They certainly managed to fool the judge who ordered the removal of the campsite. He will hopefully
be reminded of such when the time comes.
Where are the same officials now, when the SAC is being damaged by Shell and their

author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Fri Oct 26, 2007 00:57author address author phone

I hope that Mr. Peter Sweetman and Ms. Monica Muller have acted as appropriate with regard to the overt damage done to this SAC at Glengad.

Perhaps they will inform indy readers of their sterling efforts backed up, as is their wont, by a paper trail to that effect.

I await their response with interest ...

author by Preciouspublication date Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:31author address author phone

Let me just make the point that the name of the campaign says what it means and means what it says.

We shouldn't assume that people, especially new readers, know what 'S2S' or 'Shell 2 Sea' means. And it serves no purpose to shorten the name. It's not that long a name that it's cumbersome to write it. Take care with the name of the campaign, it's important.

Just stick with 'Shell to Sea', leave it at that and avoid any confusion.

author by Teddypublication date Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:42author address author phone

RPS are supposed to be highly paid professional consultants yet it seems they can't even read a map.

'An RPS employee told the group that they believed they weren’t on the SAC and that the maps they had received from RPS showed they weren’t on the SAC.'

What a joke!

author by Che O'Neillpublication date Fri Oct 26, 2007 22:15author address author phone

Be prepared for an escalation in direct action over this and other attempts to dictate to the people of the West of Ireland and indeed the 32 counties of Ireland by the state and foreign interests, that we will not accept this and will do what ever it takes to defend our community from the actions of Shell and their private "Garda" army.

author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:57author address author phone

How strange that there's no been no response from this pair to my original and subsequent posts; then again, perhaps not - they may be busy away from Rossport which may, or may not be their 'locality' depending on the definition of the word ...

Perhaps also, it being a bank holiday weekend, I may or may not be receiving a legal missive tomorrow, another favoured tactic of theirs.

Be that as it may, I would advise any communities currently being 'represented' by either/or of the above and, equally, communities who have past experience of such 'representation' to watch this space.

On Thursday last week on Mid West Radio a direct challenge was issued to Shell's PR John Egan to come on air the following day to address the Shell lie of 300/350 local (Parich of Kilcommom) jobs currently in place at Ballinaboy. Mr. Egan didn't show ... One can draw ones own conclusions.

Similarily, I believe, one could draw interesting conclusions from continued no-comment to Indy by Mr. Sweetman and Ms. Muller.

Watch this space ....

author by Northern Lightpublication date Tue Oct 30, 2007 17:44author address author phone

Lorna Siggins in the TImes of Friday 26th of October 2007 writes that they (RPS) have said the "oversight" was due to "miscommunication", both within their own company and Shell E&P Ireland.

In other words Shell told them to go ahead and drill in the SAC and the clowns went ahead and did it. Of course they knew what they were doing. They have to read maps all the time. Before even looking at maps they could have guessed it was an SAC.

My take on it is that they just presupposed that since Shell have FF/Greens, Independant Media and IBEC dancing to their tune that all would be cosy and they'd be in and out in no time.

author by joe c.publication date Tue Oct 30, 2007 20:11author address author phone

"Miscommunication is one particular case of a lack of alignment of agents' mental state, specifically one in which they diverge on the occurrence or results of communication"
- and they can't read a map either. Sums up RPS very neatly.

author by joe c.publication date Tue Oct 30, 2007 20:21author address author phone

report in Mayo News -


author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Tue Oct 30, 2007 23:13author address author phone

I have tried, through this forum, to elicit a response from Peter Sweetman and Monica Muller regarding their action/inaction in protecting the SAC at Glengad about which one and/or both were vociferous regarding the Rossport Solidarity Camp which as you know was attested against by affidavit of Karen Gaynor to the Circuit Court swearing that it would take 15 YEARS for grasses to re-establish themselves at a part of the RSC.

The people of Rossport and other areas, as you are no doubt aware, employed the services of Mr. Sweetman in August 2001 for which services he was paid; the same people, with the exception of Ms. Muller, dipensed with Mr. Sweetman's services in mid 2002 following which there has been no basis for Mr. Sweetman to claim that he is 'representing' local communities.

Given that neither Mr. Sweetman nor Ms. Muller have taken the opportunity offered through this forum to comment would FIE please clarify the following:

Is Peter Sweetman still associated with/a member of FIE and does he act with the imprimatur of FIE?

Is Ms. Muller associated with/a member of FIE and does she act with FIE imprimatur?

In what way has FIE supported either the Rossport Five or the Shell to Sea campaign or, indeed, local people associated with neither of the aforementioned since mid 2002?

Did FIE discuss and sanction the action of Sweetman and Muller in settling their part of proceedings in the Shell-instigated High Court case still being addressed by local people Bríd McGarry, Brendan Philbin, Philip McGrath and Willie Corduff?

Why have press links to S2S coverage been provided by FIE only since my first post re Sweetman and Muller appeared on Friday last, 26th October??

I look forward to your early response through this forum.

author by Blase(hun)publication date Mon Nov 05, 2007 18:12author email luprachanblase at gmail dot comauthor address author phone

Just cant belive that,garda should protect you from people,organisations who brakes the law.

author by Mariepublication date Sat Nov 10, 2007 18:14author address author phone

Am following the story from Argentina, well done to all, I hope one day I can be there to join you. Keep up the good work.

author by Ethel Corduff - Supporter Shell to Seapublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 02:03author address author phone

Well done Maura, for trying to get comments from Peter Sweetman and Monica Muller. Regarding Peter Sweetman I was shocked to read that he was involved against so many planning applications all over the country. I can't recall the exact number but it was dozens. His was the sole protest which stopped the development at Knock airport, yet he has a Dublin address and no involvment with the area, and as you say no longer involved with the Rossport community either. Sounds like he has moved on to fresh pastures.
As for Ms Muller her letters to the press were very nasty and hateful especially towards the solidarity camp. I wrote several replies to them but unfortunately they were not published.
After getting her legal fees paid by Shell I see she has her own solicitor in the commonage dispute against them. Self interest again. She is a Lone Ranger now, Naturally she can not join the others! Peter Sweetman is not involved publically this time. Who will Monica get to pay her costs this time? Perhaps Friends of the Environment!

author by Tonypublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 08:47author address author phone

Objecting to planning can be a very lucrative pastime. Occasionally one will get a 'strike' where the developer is willing to 'compensate' the objector to withdraw the planning objection.
There are several well-known serial objectors in this country (Irl.).

author by paddy1 - Alien in your own country publication date Sun Jul 26, 2009 22:27author address author phone

Ireland is unique in having a planning appeals board - right? My associates in planning working in the U.K. and the U.S seem to think no other country operates such an organisation as Board Pleanala. It is seen as the ultimate expression of democracy but surely, if the local authorities were doing their job properly there would be no need for such an organisation..
I was interested in the last comment about persons going round objecting to developments being in line for remuneration if they don't go ahead with the objection and there are numerous individuals going round following this line of business...could we be forewarned with a list of names of those prepared to be "bought?"

Perhaps a new subject could be introduced...responsible town and country planning/how to challenge a planning decision.

author by Johnpublication date Sat Jun 12, 2010 18:54author address author phone

Excellent article and well done.

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