Independent Media Centre Ireland

Solitaire flees Shell to Sea kayakers action

category mayo | environment | news report author Friday June 26, 2009 11:17author by Rossport Solidarity Camp - Shell to Sea

300+ Gardai and navy outwitted as pipe-laying ship forced to scarper!

In a daring action by the Shell to Sea kayak team Shell's pipe-laying ship the Solitaire was forced to flee from activists late yesterday. Read on...

Five kayakers breached the Solitaire's unilaterally declared 500 metre exclusion zone yesterday evening (Thursday) in a daring offshore action. Despite the presence of Navy warships, Garda water units and private security vessels in Erris waters, the determined fishing boat approached the vessel. The kayakers made directly for the Solitaire, dodging Shell and safety boats, and came within 100 metres of the pipelaying ship which immediately left the area, roughly ten miles off the Mayo Coast. This was the culmination of a day of action against the Solitaire.

Jonathan O'Donnell, a local fisherman, spent last night in Castlerea prison following his arrest at sea yesterday where he was attending to his crab pots.

The preventative detention of O'Donnell and his father Pat, appears to be motivated by a government plan to shut down all protests against the Solitaire as it prepares to lay 84km of pipeline to advance the ill fated and unwanted Corrib gas project. Pat was also injured by Gardai, and sent to hospital, from where he has since been released.

Meanwhile Jonathan and Pat O'Donnell's boats remain impounded by Gardai as dozens of people arrived in the area to join local protestors launching a weekend of action to prevent the Solitaire's disastrous mission.

Shell To Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington praised the courage of the crew, saying, “it is actions like this which show that a small group of determined individuals can challenge corporate power and prevent Shell from bulldozing its way through a rural community."

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Caption: Video Id: eEAwob38WYk Type: Youtube Video
Solitaire flees Shell to Sea Kayakers

Comments (23 of 23)

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author by ARTY eeeeeeeeeeeepublication date Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:28author address author phone

news of solitaires arrival at 9 RTE radio news, then no mention at 11 news

report text on site;

author by Andrewpublication date Fri Jun 26, 2009 15:21author address author phone

These are tweets posted from a WSM member at Rossport Solidarity Camp to out twit account over the morning. We now have a phone set up so SMS sent appear live in this feed and on the WSM web site front page

#s2s Sean at RSC - Solitaire moved into position, media circus starting to assemble

#s2s Sean at RSC - Stinger (part where pipe come from) has been lowered into the sea by Solitaire
about 3 hours ago from web

#s2s Sean at RSC Helicopter now circling the camp on and off
about 1 hour ago from web

#s2s Sean at RSC. Helicopters gone for the moment. Solitaire still doing prepatory works no pipes being laid. Police harassing ppl tryin ...
29 minutes ago from txt

You can see these as they arrive at

author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Fri Jun 26, 2009 18:14author address author phone

Link to indymedia article on Garda numbers in Mayo below.

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author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Fri Jun 26, 2009 22:37author address author phone

The Solitaire is stationary in the bay about 300m-400m offshore from Glengad and about 2km away from Shell's Glengad compound. There is a tug moored astern of the ship about 30m from the 'stinger', and it has been there for the last three hours or so. There are now 60 or more Gardai on the beach below the Solidarity Camp, but the campers are maintaining a presence on the beach just as they did yesterday. More people have arrived at the camp, and the roads remain open for now. Jonathan O'Donnell was released on bail (a surety of €500) this evening at the High Court in Dublin. He lost his challenge to the unlawfulness of his arrest, and will face trial soon on the public order charges brought against him. It is rumoured that the state has seized/impounded Jonathan's and his father Pat's fishing boats under emergency powers legislation. The day's weather has been very showery, with some intense bursts of rain at times.

47 Gardai in shot on the beach below the Solidarity Camp
47 Gardai in shot on the beach below the Solidarity Camp

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author by Patrick - Go all the way shellpublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 00:00author address author phone

The country is in recession and jobs are far and few between. Let shell bring the gas in and bring some money to the west.

author by Muppet Watchpublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 00:23author address author phone

What this country needs is a fair share of the Corrib gas as it goes into economic meltdown brought about by Shells FF friends

author by jobseekerpublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 00:23author address author phone

The majority of permanent positions at the Shell terminal have been filled by workers from the UK, not the west. For 30 euros a night you could house a guard over the next few weeks - thats the only benefit most people will see from this fiasco.

author by m harringtonpublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 09:27author address author phone

WHEN MARATHON Oil discovered gas off Kinsale in 1971 there was much anticipation of a series of major discoveries, such as were being found in the North Sea. Sadly, this did not happen.

Since then, the only commercially significant discovery has been Corrib in 1996, 25 years later, along with some modest gas discoveries in the Celtic Sea.

To change this situation and to improve energy security, Ireland must become a more attractive exploration area for oil and gas companies. Ireland currently imports 95 per cent of its gas and all of its oil. Some 60 per cent of our electricity is generated in gas-fired power stations. The Kinsale Head gas field, with its satellites at Ballycotton and Seven Heads, is nearly exhausted and the Corrib field, discovered in 1996, has yet to come on stream. Our consequent exposure to supply interruptions has been emphasised by Forfás and the International Energy Agency. Sustainable Energy Ireland forecast that this exposure will become more acute as our traditional sources of supply from the North Sea become depleted and we import gas from farther afield.

Undoubtedly, industry interest in the Irish offshore area has waned. Despite the considerable promotional efforts of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, only two applications for new exploration licences were made under the Rockall Licensing Round this year. In similar recent rounds in the UK and Norway, there were 193 and 46 applications respectively.

This is the context in which we must examine the validity of Andy Storey’s claims (State losing billions in natural gas giveaway, Opinion and Analysis, June 19th).

Why, if Irish fiscal terms are said to be so attractive, is the industry not beating a path to the Minister’s door? Why are companies flocking to the apparently penal tax regimes of Norway and the UK? The answer lies in taking account of the whole picture, rather than single elements.

When drilling a well In Norway, the odds of making a commercial discovery are as good as 5 to 1, and the average size of discovery is large. Norway has well-developed infrastructure and services. Most tellingly, in order to maintain the momentum of exploration and to attract new entrants, the State refunds about 78 per cent of the cost of unsuccessful exploration wells.

These are the factors that enable Norway to apply a high tax on production. In Ireland, in contrast, the odds of making a commercial discovery are historically about 25 to 1. Infrastructure is limited, costs are high, and the full cost of exploration is at risk.

Storey also quotes “credible estimates” that €50 billion worth of oil and gas reserves exist offshore. Why are Irish and international companies not scrambling for a slice of this enormous cake? The fact is that offshore Ireland is a high-risk, high-cost area. The industry has expended over €2 billion in today’s money, drilling 155 exploration and appraisal wells over the last 35 years, with quite limited commercial results.

In reality, Ireland is competing for exploration funds with other jurisdictions where there is the ready availability of acreage with good prospects, easy access to geological data, a welcoming climate for exploration companies, and favourable terms specifically designed to attract new entrants.

For instance, the New Zealand government has recently funded a major seismic survey to identify hydrocarbon prospects, the results of which will be made available free to potential licence applicants.

The UK operates a system of “Promote Licences” in which geological data is made available for a nominal fee. This easy access to data encourages small companies to apply for short-term licences with a view to identifying exploration prospects and attracting a partner with the resources to finance further surveys and possibly to drill a well. The UK government has also recently announced relaxation of its fiscal terms in an effort to encourage exploration.

These types of initiative generate a steady flow of new licence holders, which together with existing, long-term licence holders creates the critical mass of exploration that is vital for success and that is currently lacking in Ireland. However, the picture is not all gloom and doom.

Existing holders of Irish licences, such as Island Oil and Gas, Providence Resources and Serica Energy, have shown their ability to attract investment from larger players.

Many of the wells drilled offshore Ireland have encountered “shows” of oil or gas, and improved seismic and drilling technology may unlock more of the geological secrets. Serica, together with its German partner RWE, has recently discovered oil at its Bandon prospect west of Achill, which is the first oil find off the west coast for almost 30 years. While much effort and funds must be expended to determine if this discovery is commercially viable, this is a hopeful sign for the area.

Mechanisms such as those identified above, which would not prejudice the State’s tax take in the event of a commercial discovery, could be adapted to the Irish situation. All the stakeholders, and especially the State, should now focus on generating a substantial increase in the level of exploration activity.

Fergus Cahill is chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association which represents companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in Irish waters. Members include: Eni UK Ltd, ExxonMobil International Ltd, Lansdowne Oil and Gas, PSE Kinsale Energy Ltd. Providence Resources Plc, Serica Energy, Shell EP Ireland Ltd, and StatoilHydro

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:21author address author phone

'm harrington' has gone to a lot of trouble with that long post. But it's wasted effort because anyone with 2 cents worth of knowledge about oil/gas discoveries off the west coast would know that what s/he is claiming ain't so. It's also shot through with circular arguments.

For example, the precise reason that Norway NOW has the infrastructure to support further oil and gas exploration is that it insisted on securing a decent share of royalties and taxes from the exploration companies before they were allowed to begin. Before they would permit work to begin Norway ensured that they first of all had the expertese and subsequently the money to build the sector in a carefully managed way. We could and must do exactly the same. First we need to get some sentient human beings into government. There is no argument here for the commercial free for all that currently obtains in Ireland - courtesy of disgraced politicians like Bertie Ahern and Ray Burke - no matter how many oily, deceitful arguments are advanced to suggest otherwise.

The 'security of supply' argument is a flat out lie. Shell/Statoil/Marathon are under no obligation to sell OUR gas to us. In fact, at the oral hearing in Belmullet the other day, the insinuating and unctious counsel for SEPIL, Esmonde Keane, acknowledged that gas is alrealy contracted for supply to a customer or customers that he would not name because, he claimed, it was 'commercially sensitive information'. You betcha. If the gas was destined for supply to Ireland we'd be having the fact rammed down our throats at every opportunity. Apparently, we're supposed to be glad to pay for something we already own. What brazen liars Fianna Fail are.

Also, IF oil and gas companies are reluctant to investigate further as yet, it is at least as likely to be because of the determined and responsible opposition to the Corrib Gas project by dedicated local protestors who are carrying an unacknowledged and enormous burden on behalf of all Irish people.

We already know that there are significant finds out there. We also know that Bellanaboy is not just about the Corrib field. What is being attempted here is an onshore precedent for future refining and related industry activity. Even if there was uncertainty about what is out there - it STILL does not make economic sense for our government to do anything other than insist to the companies involved that if and when oil and gas are extracted, it will only be done on terms that are equitable for the state and for the people of Ireland. More importantly, our government should insist that the likes of Shell will never be welcomed here unless they take our environment, health and safety seriously. On these last three points, I had the pleasure of sitting through almost 12 hours of Shell's indifference at the oral hearing at Belmullet this week. In my entire life I have never seen such a callous and insulting display of deceit, distortion, evasion, contempt and arrogance. 'Witnesses' and 'experts' for Shell were at times openly sneering at the submissions and concerns of local people. Bad enough that English, Dutch and Eastern European people are invited in by our government to treat us with such disdain*, but to see Irish people bending their education and professional training so disgustingly against their fellow citizens was sickening. To a person they wore expressions of gleeful contempt and confidence. It was enraging. Naturally, no national media were present to note this repulsive performance from Shell and their accolytes.

*Pat O' Donnell, the fisherman whose boat was sunk by people he believes had Eastern European accents has described how one morning last year on the pier at Belmullet he came across Eastern European security loitering (the genuine sort) near his fishing boat. Pat said 'keep out of my way lads, ye're part of the problem'. To which one of them replied 'you Irish fucking pig'. Think about that. It tells us all we need to know about how Shell regard us - about the licence they have been given by our own government to abuse us in every way imaginable.

As with clerical child abuse, corrupt banking practices, corrupt property development, the privatisation of the health service for foreign corporates - and every other kind of administrative incompetence imaginable - so Fianna Fail with Corrib Gas and the rest of Ireland's energy resources. Everything cloaked in denial, secrecy, bullying and distortion - all facilitated by a predominantly craven media - as usual. We can now add state brutality and violence against Irish citizens to the list. There's no limit, it seems, to the extent Fianna Fail and the Greens are prepared to go to demonstrate to the likes of Shell what obedient little corporate whores they are.

author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:33author address author phone

Shell has all arms of the state's security services working for it now - The Air Corps sent its CASA CN235 aircraft circling over the bay twice this morning, flying over the beach below the Solidarity Camp and over the Solitaire too. The Solitaire tannoy blared out somebody's name and the message 'the Shell rep wants to see you' for all in the bay to hear - Shell is getting very brazen in its impunity now. Mayo Garda Supt. Tony McNamara was spotted on the road this morning overseeing operations for Shell, and the public order Garda presence on the beach remains. Campers continue to maintain a presence on the beach in order to preserve access. Roads appear to be still open, but could yet be closed by Shell's Cops.

Pic of Shell's Air Corps plane:

Shell's Air Corps makes its first unambiguous appearance
Shell's Air Corps makes its first unambiguous appearance

Shell's Air Corps Casa CN235 circling over camp & bay
Shell's Air Corps Casa CN235 circling over camp & bay

Apparently Shell's Navy do surveillance too
Apparently Shell's Navy do surveillance too

Shell's Cops on headland overlooking the beach
Shell's Cops on headland overlooking the beach

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author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Sat Jun 27, 2009 23:52author address author phone

About 100 people gathered on Ballyglass pier for an hour-and-a-half to protest the Garda seizure of the O'Donnells' boats. Although the protestors could access the pier, the boats were sealed off from public access by 24 Gardai. In the evening, a number of Solidarity Campers went for a walk along the foreshore towards the Shell glengad compound. As the campers walked they were accompanied by an equal number of public order Gardai. A force of 30+ Gardai continue to be stationed on the beach and foreshore immediately below the Rossport Solidarity Camp.

63 Gardai in this shot - half the force strength of some counties
63 Gardai in this shot - half the force strength of some counties

There's a lot of traffic on the beach in Glengad - Garda traffic!
There's a lot of traffic on the beach in Glengad - Garda traffic!

Citizens protesting the theft of the O'Donnells' boats
Citizens protesting the theft of the O'Donnells' boats

Shell's thieves on the stolen boats
Shell's thieves on the stolen boats

Protesting the boat seizures at Ballyglass pier
Protesting the boat seizures at Ballyglass pier

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author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 00:23author address author phone

Local people continue to call to the Solidarity Camp and their defiant spirit is still strong, in spite of the oppressive and overwhelming garda and other security presence. It is also worth adding that an army jeep was spotted driving into Belmullet by many people returning from the pier protest. This confirms that practically all arms of the state security infrastructure have been placed at the service of Shell. Even the Coast Guard have been playing a supporting role in imposing Shell's will on a resisting community.

Citizens protesting the theft of the O'Donnells' boats - 2
Citizens protesting the theft of the O'Donnells' boats - 2

Who do they work for? The answer is obvious!
Who do they work for? The answer is obvious!

'Gregeen' Burks on Shell judicial harassment duty just above Ballyglass pier
'Gregeen' Burks on Shell judicial harassment duty just above Ballyglass pier

You can't have a walk on the foreshore without Shell's cops following you
You can't have a walk on the foreshore without Shell's cops following you

Remonstrating with An Garda Shell Dána
Remonstrating with An Garda Shell Dána

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author by FSB! - Rossport Solidarity Camppublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 00:27author address author phone

The first resort of a paranoid gas robber.

Surveillance equipment in the Glengad Shell compound
Surveillance equipment in the Glengad Shell compound

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author by Billy idlepublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 01:35author address author phone

Thanx FSB - Truly terrifying stuff, the Republic of Ireland is now officially a corporate plaything where citizens rights count for little or nothing

author by Mayomanpublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 04:18author address author phone

The state is now making it up as the go it seems to justify their actions on behalf of SHELL

extraordinary stuff!!

author by Alanapublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 09:56author address author phone

It seems our country is now being run by a group of vicious bullies in our Government and in Shell Oil: who are putting themselves above the law and everybody else beneath it.

This is not thought to be the kind of government what so many generations of our people fought and died for during the last 800 years or so.

And, the worst part of it all, the hybrid collection of bullies in question cannot now be stopped it seems.

The bullies have everything going for them, and the People of the Republic of Ireland are left with nothing.

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:24author address author phone

As Ireland has become the new occupied state of SHELLEIRE it is up to the true patriots of OLD IRELAND to rescue it from the criminals that have betrayed us.
The fight has to be taken against the instigators of this treasonous crime.
Up to this point in time we have been peacefully trying to stop Shell and neglecting to bring the protest to the politicians that are the main enemy of democratic Ireland.
These people do not fight by the queensbury rules they fight dirty, and we should folow their example.
WE have to change tactics= Don't give them warning when we plan an action
Start a campaign of action country wide to harrass the Gardai who no longer honour their attestation oathes (TO PROTECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF IRISH CITIZENS) they no longer represent the ordinary people they are obliged to protect but now represent the criminal politicians and their multinational friends instead.

Fianna Fail in particular have betrayed the citizens of Ireland and have led us to financial ruin. They commit the crimes knowing that they will not be punished for them. the TAXPAYER WILL.
The opposition play a game of pretense and do not have the courage to stop the ongoing crime, so it is now up to the people to change this. WE HAVE TO PUNISH THEM.


author by Patrickpublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:54author address author phone

"Justice McMenamin, has taken an extreme activist position on the case and threatened the defendants (The Rossport Five) in a very disturbing manner."


Shell Oil and Republic of Ireland Judges:

author by Andrewpublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 14:34author address author phone

#s2s Sean at RSC. A tripod has been set up blockin access to the compound where the pipe is attemptin to be brought ashore


author by Celia Spublication date Sun Jun 28, 2009 14:51author address author phone

Well done to all involved. A small action that will need to be replicated 1000's of times over in different ways if these bastards are to be stopped.

Smash the 'Republic' of Shell!!


author by Proud Irishman - Silent Majortiypublication date Mon Jun 29, 2009 21:09author address author phone

You protesters are not in the majority, you are a disruptive minority group hell bent on pushing your will on the vast majority of law abiding people in the erris area and beyond.

Your are doing Ireland a great disservice in attempting to stop the flow of gas to our shores, and for that you will always be looked on as traiters to your country

Get a life.

author by bailerpublication date Mon Jun 29, 2009 21:51author address author phone

It is absolute nonsense and deceitful to suggest that those opposed to the current Shell project are "attempting to stop the flow of gas to our shores".

I believe I am typical of those opposed to the current project in that I support extracting the gas from our shores on the basis that:
1) We get a half way reasonable share of the wealth from our own resources (e.g. 50% corp tax and 7% royalties)
2) Proper planning procedures are followed (unlike here where Shell was given the Coillte site in Bellanaboy in a back handed deal to build their refinery, and where Bord Pleanala rejected the proposed development but was overturned by corrupt policticans)

Either you are ignorant of the situation or are deliberately trying to misrepresent it.
It doesn't take a whole lot of googling to establish the facts.

author by Madam K - Revolt Videopublication date Tue Jun 30, 2009 22:16author address author phone

A Shell To Sea activist speaks to camera to refute the lie put about in the Irish mainstream media that the kayakers who came to within 100m of Shell's contracted pipe-laying ship the Solitaire had been 'detained' by security guards (or more correctly mercenaries) from IRMS. The simple truth is that the five-person kayak team did indeed get to within 100m of the Solitaire, which steamed away in response, and IRMS personnel did not 'detain' any of the team. The kayakers returned to the fishing boat from which they launched, and returned to shore safely.

Caption: Video Id: 1755 Type:
Refuting false media reports

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