Work was completely halted at Shell’s compound yesterday for over five hours in a great show of resiliance by local campaigners and their supporters. For the past two weeks now, Shell have been attempting to remove masses of peat from the compound in preparation for the tunnel boring machine which is expected to arrive early next year. Progress has been continuously disrupted as protesters brave the winter weather to stop trucks and a determined resistance is building momentum.
A local campaigner yesterday waited patiently outside the main gate of Shell’s compound in his car and requested to see someone in charge. For weeks now he has been trying to lodge complaints about public safety and traffic issues generated from the Aughoose compound. His concerns have been to date ignored. Having contacted the Shell offices in Belmullet and the refinery he was further directed by staff to go and try lodge his complaints at the compound in Aughoose where following a long wait his request remained unanswered. Once again the serious concerns of local people were ignored.
In the meantime, protesters arrived to slow work down and were met with six garda vehicles and a dozen or more Gardai along with just as many IRMS security. A tractor was prevented from entering the compound with equipment despite gardai pushing and shoving protesters around the road. Once the campaigners asked the Gardai to fullfil their duty and arrest them for blocking Shell vehicles the Gardai stepped back. It is obvious that the state’s police force here in Mayo prefer to employ violence against protesters where possible. Civil disobedience in numbers made them think again.
For the following 4 hours the gates remained shut, a long line of trucks and tractors turned off their engines and work ground to a halt as campaigners continued to peacefully demonstrate. One local person was assaulted by IRMS and after many requests the Gardai eventually took his complaint. No arrests were made in a highly spirited day. An Garda Siochana, who are supposedly the guardians of the peace, can blatantly be seen to be guardians of corporations and corruption up here in Erris.
The struggle continues. Be part of the resistance. All are welcome to stay at our winter camp or come join us during our day of solidarity on Saturday, 10th of December.