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Open Letter to the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association.

category mayo | environment | opinion/analysis author Monday July 21, 2008 07:46author by Niall Harnett - Shell to Sea.author email clareshelltosea at gmail dot comauthor phone 086 8444966 Report this post to the editors

People & Communities are never more powerful than when gathered together, in the fight, on the roads, on the land, or on the seas.

I write this letter to you the Fishermen of Erris, to your association, and to you all as individuals, and as men, in the light of Shell ‘intransigence‘, as you put it, and the arrival of Shell’s pipe-laying ship ‘the Solitaire’ off our shores.

It seems Shell have hit a right nerve with you guys and you’re very correct to be reacting with the defiance you’re adopting … again and at this time.

I’m sure you’re considering certain legal action to protect your fishing rights in Broadhaven Bay and beyond, and very good grounds indeed you have to do that, and succeed. But I wouldn’t be relying on that alone, if things don’t work out like!

If the law makers are making laws for Shell and Shell only, those ‘laws’ should be disobeyed in any case.

And we’re all well very aware of some of the bold and important stances you’ve already taken in the part you play in the hard fight against Shell and the Irish Government for the protection of Erris, it’s families, communities and it’s environment on and off shore.
It rests with the people (that's you and me friends!) to settle this question, finally.
It rests with the people (that's you and me friends!) to settle this question, finally.

In the summer of 2005 when Shell’s pipe-laying ship ‘the Solitaire’ was heading for Erris, your association made an announcement that you would be exercising your fishing rights in Broadhaven Bay and effectively blockading any effort of Shell’s Solitaire to lay their offshore pipeline. This, at a time when 5 local men languished in jail for their (since legitimised) stance against a Shell/State complicity. After a short summer of successful pickets of the Corrib Gas Project, both locally and nationally, your brave and timely announcement was the straw that broke the camels back, and caused Shell to announce an indefinite suspension of all work on the project at that time.

In December of the same year, in a written submission to Government, you raised ‘concerns that are of paramount importance to the livelihood and way of life of fishermen and their families. Our concerns have never been addressed by any Government agency or legislative authority‘. You said that Shell were ‘intransigent and it was evident that Shell will do what is most advantageous for Shell regardless of the consequences‘. You expressed the ‘preferred option of the E.I.F.A. to be the refining of Corrib Natural Gas on a shallow water platform somewhere about the midway point between source and landfall where the workers will face no more dangers than we do in our daily lives. It will eliminate the need for a high pressure onshore pipeline, render the emissions and their fallout relatively harmless and cut by half the distance of the outfall pipe to source for eventual rejection into the well‘.

On Monday 14th July 2008 you organised a flotilla of boats in a demonstration at Ballyglass Pier, (a base for Shell offshore operations), to articulate the fact that for the past 8 years it has been ‘Shell’s way or the Highway’ and your efforts to be reasonable with Shell have failed to realise any support from them or the government.

Fisherman Pat O’Donnell, who has earned national respect for his honesty, and who has remained steadfast in his opposition to Shell, despite severe backlash from the State which has been aimed at him personally in order to disable him, said again last Monday that he will block the Solitaire in order to protect his fishing rights, where Shell and the government are failing in their responsibilities to protect him and his fellow fishermen and families. That’s a serious statement. And another bold move with the Solitaire on it’s way.

‘Go hard or go home’ is an expression that comes to mind with regard to Pat, and he’s not for shirking. Fair play Chief.

In these moments of ‘coming together’ there’s a certain clarity of purpose that comes to mind along with a sense of strength and power, the power of community etc. A confidence and a sense of right. Don’t you know it?

I’ve read that in ‘biological terms‘, a ‘community’ is described as a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. I like that definition very much myself.

What kind of organism are Shell? What kind of organism is our government?

Alien organisms I’d say. Bacteria perhaps? Viruses maybe?

Harmful definitely. And only time will tell the full extent of that harm, and that damage … if we give in.

What harm already? Social division big-time now. State & Garda violence. Environmental Damage. Economic treason, the theft of our natural resources, the great gas giveaway. The robbery of the century as Terence ‘the Redoubtable’ Conway puts it.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and his people declared Shell ‘persona non-grata’ in Ogoni. They said No to Shell.

We didn’t say No to Shell altogether. We said Shell to Sea. We offered a compromise.

Shell to Sea is the compromise. Build your refinery at sea on an offshore shallow water platform, as recommended by Kevin Moore, Senior Inspector of An Bord Pleanala, and we’ll accommodate you.

Shell to Sea is the compromise.

And it’s enough of a compromise. Plenty for sure for Shell in any case, that’s for sure.

But No, Shell pushed for all that they want. No compromise on their part. None.

And our government rolled over and over, and rolls over still. What a disgrace?!

But what kind of people are we? What kind are you fishermen?

Are we gonna roll over? Are you?

I suggest not my friends, and why not? Because it’s the right thing to do.

If the State can re-arrange the laws, manage the law and re-write the rules of law to suit Shell, is that just? Is it fair? Or is the State abusing the law to construct an injustice? Yes.

So where the State has the utmost obligation to act justly, especially towards it’s citizens and communities, and is in fact conspiring with an ‘alien organism’ to outlaw and criminalise the just and legitimate popular opposition to the harmful threat of this foreign party (Shell), and effectively colluding in causing harm to it’s citizens, what should we do? Lie down? Or Stand Up to this Injustice? Obey? Or Disobey?


What does that word mean?


It means what it meant to Mahatma Gandhi when he and his people suffered beatings, jailings and killings for their civil and peaceful disobedience to the ‘colonial powers’. They were required by law to carry ‘identity passes’. Gandhi organised public bonfires to burn those passes and took the first blows himself from the police.

It means what it meant to black America and Rosa Parks when she would not obey racist laws and refused to give her seat to a white woman on the bus. She initiated a huge movement against racial segregation by her simple act of defiance to an unjust law.

Nelson Mandela and his comrades toughed it out in a brutally cruel prison regime on Robben Island, for years, in their fight against apartheid. And incidentally, they have chosen to forgive their captors, and the crimes white man, in the interests of a ‘New South Africa’.

“It’s time you recognized that you are masters in someone else’s home”, Gandhi told the British. “And it’s time for you to leave”.

It’s time for Shell to get out of Erris, out of Bellanaboy, Glengad and Rossport. Out of Broadhaven Bay.

We’ve offered them a compromise. Put your refinery at sea.

Ghandi said that matters had gone beyond legislation, beyond the law.

Laws are fallible, man-made and all too often unjust. The Law is an Ass when it comes to the Gas.

Justice is the same yesterday, today and forever. So we’ll just stick to that, whatever the law says.

You with?

Civil Disobedience can be defined as the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power (Shell) without resorting to physical violence. Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against unfair laws.

People have been doing it for centuries, and rightly so, to protect what’s right and to reject what’s wrong. If the law and the agents of law want to come against that, that’s their problem. And we can make it their problem now because we’ve learned how to, over the last few years. Mark my words.

Shell to Sea. No less.

To settle for anything less is to compromise beyond compromise into a disabling and weak position. There is little relief there.

Staying focused on the original goal, a goal that brought so many people together in community, strength and vision, will get results.

Shell to Sea.

Regroup. Refocus. Result.

No more compromise. Original compromise stands. Shell to Sea.

"It is the people whose right it is to decide all questions of national policy according to the requirements of the common good."
Article 6 of the Irish Constitution.

"It rests with the people finally to settle every question regarding the policies of the Nation, in accordance with what is necessary for the welfare of the people."
Article 6 of the Irish Constitution, literal translation from the original Irish text - Bunreacht Na hÉireann.

Anyone whose heard the Shell to Sea argument knows it’s right. There is no argument against the Shell to Sea position. That’s why the government won’t debate the issues. They know they’ll lose. But still they persist in pumping for Shell and have pushed the Corrib Gas Project on … by force.

I’ll ask the question again.

Lie down or Stand up. Obey or Disobey?

A little flak from the Irish State is a small price to pay compared to the Shell noose that hung Saro-Wiwa. He knew he was gonna die and was prepared to pay that price for his community. He was a normal guy like you and me. We’ve all got guts like Saro-Wiwa, if we just make the effort.

You with?

Keep that Solitaire out of Broadhaven Bay please lads.

You mind the seas and we’ll mind the land. Ignore that refinery at Bellanaboy. It’s just a mirage.

A white elephant in the bog without a pipeline. Let’s keep that pipeline OUT.

You know it makes sense.

And just to finish with an important …

Reminder: There are no benefits to the people of Ireland from Shell’s exploitation of the government’s giveaway of the billions and billions (and counting) of euros worth of natural gas and oil off our shores. According to Mike Cunningham, a former director of Statoil Exploration (Ireland), ‘No other country in the world has given such favourable terms as Ireland.’ In other places in Europe the state take can be 55% or even 79% of an oil/gas field. In Ireland it’s … eh … wait for it … 0%.

It’d be a good joke if it wasn’t so deadly fuckin’ serious!

Don’t you agree?

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

When wrong becomes right, it’s our duty to fight.
When wrong becomes right, it’s our duty to fight.

author by Niallpublication date Mon Jul 21, 2008 07:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice Article here from Áine Ryan.

"Fisherman says he will go to jail before allowing crab pots be moved for Shell pipeline".

Click here: http://www.corribsos.com/index.php?id=1817

author by Chrissiepublication date Mon Jul 21, 2008 15:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Erris people deserve our support now more than ever It's not just their rights & homeland 'way out west' that are being sold down the river - it's the rights & resources & environment of the people of Ireland. Come & support/witness the struggle to stop Shell turning Erris into their oil province.

author by LPpublication date Mon Jul 21, 2008 22:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is it. Whether or not a pipe will be laid between Ballinaboy and the gas field will be decided between now and October. If anyone cares to affect that decision, you'll have to vote with your feet. And your boats. This really is it. God help us all.

author by the Cheifpublication date Tue Jul 22, 2008 21:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I just want to point out that a story in today's daily star, and elsewhere on the web is all lies.
the story claims that my company abused a foreigner.
it says "In a separate decision, Ukrainian Nataliya Golovan was awarded 10,000 euro over her treatment by the Porturlin Shellfish Ltd. seafood factory in Mayo, where she worked from early 2004 to 2005. The Equality Tribunal said the company discriminated against her as it kept her passport longer than necessary and did not give her basic tax documents such as P60 forms in a timely manner."

this is a conspiracy by the state to blacken my name.

author by Chrissiepublication date Tue Jul 22, 2008 23:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, Chief, we can't expect a slag rag like the Star to deal in truth; at least there still are some independent papers with a bit of courage.

author by Ethel and Tom Corduff - Shell to Seapublication date Thu Aug 07, 2008 22:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congratulations Niall Hartnett on a brillant open letter. You said it all! Lets hope it helps to unite the fishermen re the blockade.
Regarding attempts to smear the Chief re broadcasting migrants petty claims. The only daily paper worth reading is the Irish Times. We would not read the Daily Star if we got it for nothing. I am sure few people who matter read it.

author by that's apublication date Thu Aug 07, 2008 23:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and if it's not true you can get a retraction-`

The Press Association of Ireland
80 Harcourt Street
Dublin 2

Dublin 01 605 6330

As for "people who matter" who exactly gets to decide who "matters'?

author by the diggerpublication date Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

>In a separate decision, Ukrainian Nataliya Golovan was awarded 10,000 euro over her treatment by the Porturlin Shellfish Ltd. seafood factory in Mayo, where she worked from early 2004 to 2005. The Equality Tribunal said the company discriminated against her as it kept her passport longer than necessary and did not give her basic tax documents such as P60 forms in a timely manner.<

Is that what the Equality Tribunal found as a fact or not?

Or is the report of the Equality Tribunal proceedings fabricated?

author by IT readerpublication date Fri Aug 08, 2008 20:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fishermen vote to accept Shell offer

Some 30 members of the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association (EIFA) have been offered compensation for dropping their opposition during the laying of the offshore pipeline this season.

The fishermen have been given less than 48 hours by Shell EP Ireland to accept the offer. The deadline is noon today.

The deal will clear the way for the Solitaire, described as the world's largest deepwater pipelaying ship, to begin work on the offshore section.

This is expected to begin within a week, in advance of An Bord Pleanála's approval for the modified onshore pipeline route.

"This is the best deal we could get after seven years. We were between a rock and a hard place," EIFA chairman Eddie Diver said.

"We were never against the gas project, but against the methods being used, which would harm the marine environment."

A legal agreement drawn up by Shell would be studied by the association's legal advisers, he added.

However, the owner of a shellfish company, Pat O'Donnell, one of a minority group against the deal, has questioned the authority of a private company to put pressure on him to leave publicly owned, licensed fishing grounds.

"I believe the health of the marine environment for future generations is more important than short-term compensation," Mr O'Donnell said.

EIFA members, who have been in negotiation with Shell since late June, have been told that the Corrib gas partners won't discharge "treated produced water" from unrefined gas through the outfall pipe 12km (7 miles) offshore.

Shell says this is a "goodwill gesture".

The outfall pipe will still discharge contaminated water and local drainage from the area at the refinery, the association has been told.

EIFA unsuccessfully opposed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions licence for the discharge pipe, due to fears about the long-term impact.

The association subsequently appealed to four Government departments for assistance but received no response.

It was then invited to negotiate by Shell in late June as the company was anxious to proceed with plans for the offshore project.

EIFA proposed an alternative location for the discharge pipe 19km (12 miles) west of Eagle Island in Co Mayo, but this has now been dropped.

The compensation offered by Shell amounts to €15,000 for registered and licensed vessel owners who do "not normally fish in the prescribed pipeline corridor", and up to €30,000 for owners who can demonstrate that they have fished regularly on the route.

Shell, in its letter to fishermen, said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and "international experts" had "confirmed that the treated produced water will cause no harm to the marine environment".


author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Those who accepted pay-off, Yes.

Those who didn't, No.

(And to pre-empt the trolls, those who didn't roll over aren't holding out for a few more shekels, they're fighters).

author by Peace Loverpublication date Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Civil Disobedience" looks like it might be the only possible answer left now?

Fill the law courts with well mannered and peace loving "obstructers" until the rooms are bursting at the seams, and then demand the age old right to a jury trial?

That should do it?

author by traitor watchpublication date Sat Aug 09, 2008 14:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maua says "Those who accepted pay-off, Yes. Those who didn't, No. "

Well unfortunatley for the Chief Shell will publish a full list of the fishermens names on their website.

I expect it to make intresting reading!

author by Anonpublication date Mon Aug 11, 2008 14:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The $hell devil in the detail of the 'Agreement' delivered by Eddie Dever states:

3.1 to forego the right to fish and/or in any way impede marine activities on the Corrib project in the area of the proposed offshore works, as shown on the attached plan, from the date of execution of this agreement until completion of the proposed offshore works scheduled for 2008;

3.2 to remove any existing fishing gear currently located in the area of the proposed offshore works by no later than close of business on Tusday, 12 August 2008;

3.3 any subsequent accidental loss or damage to any fishing equipment remaining in the area of the proposed offshore works after Tuesday, 12 August 2008 will not be compensated by SEPIL;

3.4 not to claim compensation, against SEPIL, for the loss of the right to fish under any other legislative or common law right where such right is being compensated by this compensatory payment.

Would YOU sign this??? Dever won't be signing - he doesn't fish.

author by G.D.Flynn - International republicanpublication date Mon Aug 11, 2008 21:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To siphon off More cubic metres a pipeline is the the easiest but the most vunerable,a ship has a Plimsol Line and can be accurately recorded.The pipelines of the Middle East should explain the weak link,and currently in Gorgia. Putin was,nt in Eire for a River Dance with Bertie,Eire is getting ripped off Big Time! and the ecological damage see the Nigerian Delta. Support the Fishermen,and the Farmers and use the CONSTITUTION!

author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Tue Aug 12, 2008 15:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting flotsam and jetsam still surrounds the 'Agreement' trumpeted by $hell in their IT headline.

Those who were willing to take the $hilling thought it would be delivered yesterday - the sister-in-law of a local quisling employed by $hell did the rounds yesterday morning to collect signed 'Agreements'.

Then, next development, EIFA recalled the signed bits of paper and Devers & Co. are in further 'discussions' with goodbuddy $hell.

This writer's view is that it's not those who were willing to be delivered who are still concerned about the outfall pipe; rather it is those who can't be bought who continue to create little and large difficulties for the $hellsuits.

Long may it continue.

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