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Two Anti-Shell Campaigners Jailed for Civil Disobedience

category mayo | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Tuesday August 04, 2009 13:51author by RSC Report this post to the editors

--- Eight and four month sentences show dramatic increase in repression ---

featured image
Niall with Garda Hugh Egan MY101

Shell to Sea campaigners Maura Harrington and Niall Harnett were sentenced to four and eight months in jail respectively at Bellmulet district court today. Both protesters have been convicted for taking action as part of a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience against the ill-fated Corrib Gas Project. Maura was given her four month sentence under Section 8 of the Public Order Act; 'failing to comply with the directions of a Garda'. The sentence was handed down in relation to an incident that occurred duing a protest at Shell's 'landfall' compound gate on 30th August 2008. Niall was sentenced to eight months in relation to two separate incidents. He was given a four month sentence under Section 8 of the Public order act, and another four months under Section 2, for the supposed assault of a Garda.

A protest was organised by Dublin Shell to Sea group for Thursday 30th July outside Mountjoy prison where Maura was taken after sentencing on Thursday morning.

Maura had driven her car to the gate of the compound which is the site where the high pressure gas pipeline is to come ashore. She then refused to move her car in one of several acts of peaceful civil disobedience that Maura has engaged in. This is the third time this year that Maura Harrington, retired local school principal, has been jailed for peacefully protesting against the Corrib Gas project.

The alleged assault for which Niall was convicted occured at the compound fence and eye witness acounts and video footage shows Niall attempting to aid another protester who is being violently assaulted by a Garda. Niall, who is on his way to Catlerea Prison after sentencing this afternoon said:

“I have been jailed for my opposition and civil disobedience to Shell and their facilitators in the Irish State, and for my part in a brilliant protest which will continue and will grow. They will not get away with the destruction of the community, the environment and the giveaway of Irish natural resources. My motives are pure, and this sentence will have served a purpose if it exposes the lengths the State will go in their complicity in the rip-off of Ireland’s natural resources”.

Both defendents were forced to choose between signing restrictive bonds to keep the peace or lengthy jail terms. The bonds would have placed limits on and prevented each of them from exercising their democratic rights to freedom to protest and freedom of movement. Under such bonds they would have been forbidden from attending any protest and excluded from the areas around any Shell sites.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “Certain prominent protesters appear to have been targeted in an attempt to crush resistance in the area. These jail sentences represent the lastest examples of a sustained campaign by the state, in conjunction with Shell, to criminalise and intimidate the local community and their supporters in order to implement their project at any cost. Maura and Niall are courageous campaigners against the destruction of the environment, the threat to health and safety and the giveaway of Ireland's natural resources. ”

author by Blacblocpublication date Thu Jul 30, 2009 21:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These sentences will only serve to reinforce opposition to the Corrib Gas project.

author by Mickpublication date Thu Jul 30, 2009 22:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So they're executing people in Nigeria and interning people in Ireland? Time to rethink the strategy and step it up a notch...

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Thu Jul 30, 2009 22:14author email libertypics at yahoo dot dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shells2Sea campaign photo essays @: and latest updates and info @:

All pics © Michael Gallagher except the poster.
All pics © Michael Gallagher except the poster.





author by Damienpublication date Thu Jul 30, 2009 22:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've emailed, expressing my annoyance that this came under their 'latest' at 1 minute past 7, I suggest a delude of emails maybe will make them get their house in order. After all it is a start that they have showed it..

author by Jackpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 00:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

During the late sixties in B.C. Canada the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers union went on strike against the entire oil refining industry on the west coast of B.C. All refineries were shut down for a number of months and then the oil monopolies started with court ordered injunctions against the picket lines, and then started bringing in scabs, and then finally drove trucks over workers and one was killed. They then took the leaders and held arbitration meetings and had the leaders fired and blacklisted. It was a long and drawn out battle and to this day the whole labour movement remembers and mourns the losses. What was gained. The whole world is now questioning as that strike indicated they should, use of alturnative fuels to the fossil fuels that inevitably pollute and poison the environment. the air, land , and water for monied profits.

Put simply and in easy language we the picket line people have come up with a solution. Here it is in simple words. RE-TOOL THE ENTIRE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Coal, gas, oil and atomic energy is destroying the planets livability and therefore the last forty-six years of ecological green revolution has brought into being the hi-tech tools to put in place wind, tidal, and solar power which transforms to electricity and is more power than can be used. No more blackouts. This non-pollution solution is given freely in natures kinder laws and provides work for all and forever more. Viva socialist liberation. End pollutin wars, not endless wars for more pollution.

author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Ploughsharespublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 06:38author address At Large, Australiaauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Solidarity from down under....will spread the word.
Courageous people in a corrupt state.

Can someone post prison address for support mail and prison numbers if necessary in Irish system.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The above link on the photos should read:

Messages of support and solidarity to:

Maura Harrington
The Dochas Centre
Mountjoy Prison
Dublin 1

Niall Hartnett
Castlerea Prison
Co. Roscommon

author by John Jefferies - WPpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I suggest that letters should be addressed to Maura and Niall with the words "Prisoner of Conscience" after their names.

author by m.m.mccarronpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is becoming more urgent to confront the growing practice of reducing the Right to Protest/the exercise of civil disobedience to matters in 8. of the Public Order Act which is now being used with seeming abandon at Glengad. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 20 that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. In an assembly all or none are guilty and the targeting of individuals is an abuse of the spirit of human rights. Freedom of association is threatened by asking people to sign bonds restricting their choice of movement. Refusal, obstruction are elements in rightful protest and a group knows for how long it intends to maintain such a stance and the Gardai should seek such information if it has not been conveyed to them. After all O'Connell Street is often obstructed as are the streets around the Dail by various groups exercising their protest rights. When was a farmer arrested ... in fact the right to protest is stewarded by the Gardai. The same approach must be seen to be used for all and in a spirit of democracy, protest must be protected as its healthy expression. This week alone nine Shell to Sea campaigners were in Court in Ballina on Monday under 8 of the Public Order Act, as were around seven Shell to Sea campaigners on Thursday in Court at Belmullet. Does not bode well for a campaign/association which has refused for 8 years to keep step with the Celtic Tiger, confronting it daily with its flaws as seen in the Shell Project and doing so as a civic duty. For this! Court and Prison while the bankers and developers and politicians remain accused but not punished! Where is truth and justice?

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This latest Fianna Fail device to harass and abuse peacefull campaigners by repetetive jailing is another addition to the ongoing crimes of the state.
Ireland will be responsible for the shamefull abuse of democracy. The silence of the opposition parties is compliance of Fianna Fail crime. The silence of the media and the public in general is also compliance of the criminal conduct of the government.
The people of Ireland are contributing to the destruction of this country, unless the people rise up and take controll and return the state to democracy they will deserve the out come of criminal leadership.

VOTE NO TO LISBON. other wise you will srengthen the power of these crooks.

Maura and Niall are experts of what this state has become and their sacrifice is respected and apreciated by all the people that share their ideals . THANK YOU FOR YOUR COURAGE.

author by Erris Exilepublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would love to think that the masses would be angered at what has happened in ireland.
However, they're too busy making a joke about what has happened in this country to care.
The majority of people in this country are still too concerned with keeping up with the jones' even though they're broke too.
I wish that the people of this country would wake up and use their brains for just a second instead of taking the same lies from the media in this country. If a headline were to appear in the independent tomorrow stating that shell to sea had connections with those responsible for 9/11, then many of the idiots in this country would believe it.
Unfortunately that is what you are up against in trying to get the truth to people.
I pray that someday soon i am proven wrong but i won't hold my breath. Romantic Ireland is dead and gone, it's with O'Leary in the grave.

Fair play to Maura and Niall, your unwavering spirit is a credit to you.

author by TomásOBpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 13:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maura is out on bail!

author by C - RSCpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 13:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just heard Maura was just released from Mountjoy on bail pending her appeal.

The Judge didn't put any conditions on Maura's recognisance for appealling besides 1000 euro. However with Niall the judge wanted to put a condition that Niall stay away for all the Shell sites in Erris for him to get out pending his appeal. Niall wouldn't accept this condition which is why he's in jail still.

His address is
Niall Harnett,
Castlerea Prison,
Co. Roscommon

author by Stevo - Galway S2Spublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 14:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I thought there were court hearings both yesterday and today, in which case I'm really hoping not to hear that any other campaigners have been dealt with the same removal of justice.

Also wanted to comment on Niall's bail conditions. Doesn't he LIVE way too close to Shell sites for it to be a possibility that he stay away from such sites, even if he were likely to agree to such a thing?

Glad to hear that Maura is out on bail.

I think there was going to be a protest in Galway on Sunday night , not sure of details yet though.

author by Damienpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 15:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here is a copy of an email to Breaking News about their black out of the whole debacle yesterday, and how it took four hours to report it. Alternatively use the online form.
FAO Jill O'Sullivan

Dear Jill

I am writing to express my frustration and annoyance at your coverage of the whole Rossport/Corrib Gas Protests.

Yesterday at approximately 3PM LOCAL Shell to Sea protestors Maura Harrington and Niall Harnett were sentenced to 4 and 8 months in prison for refusing to allow a high explosive, ODOURLESS, unrefined gas pipeline through unstable bogland in their native Mayo. However your normally decent website only got around to covering this at 19:01:03. This is unacceptable for what purports to be a leading, cutting edge news website. Independent News Websites carried this story from 3-3.30PM until late evening. I am mystified that you guys only got around to covering this 4 hours later. This is below the standard that journalists should aspire to achieve. Your standard of reporting this story in the past has also been short of the high standards I had came to expect from your site. Previously you reported an incident in which extremely brave Shell to Sea activists attempted to disrupt the Solitaire pipelaying vessel as merely kayaker's out having a paddle. I shall be reconsidering visting your website ever again unless you guys get up to scratch on this issue.

Kind Regards

author by Damienpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 16:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors &

The more of them that get the messgae the better

author by Authorpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 23:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

photos, and footage from 13 september 2008 which was shown in court.

author by mcbett - napublication date Tue Aug 04, 2009 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why such events make so small noise in the press and through the people here?
why is just Indymedia speaking when such events happen, and sometimes not even Indymedia can catch the amount of repressive actions by the local authorities against normal citizens in this country?
The country is too insulated and groups fragmented and these conservative forces act so easily to fragment and separate each intelligence, each action each democratic tool for the citizens sovereign.
I suspect the idea is to preserve the education principles of being subjects of some Empire like the British one, where to feel always guilty of personal sins in front of some better righteous and leading poweful ones, who have the divine right to make of them meat balls if needed, rather than to be adult citizens of their own democratic republic, where the freedom of opinion is worth and valuable tool to make the land a better place where to live, the taxes paid to get some leaders to administrate what people wish to be, and who run the country in their public function, not in private power.
For each individual who pay taxes - even through alcohol dependence - there are bureaucrats up on their chairs making dangers and whose holidays are well paid, with or without recession.
Why don't we increase the open debate? Why people is only called to take part of actions results rather than to follow the full process of actions and to built them together?
Indymedia is a too restricted space to give information.
National protests should be called by all the workers for these issues too, like for other working/survival issues, like the jailing if Shell to Sea protesters.
Schools should strike on these breach of security and ecological matters given to the speculation of few owners, and workers should stop their work for a day, not just for their loss of jobs, but because this is crafted by such terrorists of the humanity who have no care at all of theirs and others future for a fist of dollars, who are so mean to sell their arses to the first moneymonger who will destroy further the country leaving no traces after bringing away all his thefts as it happens from the prehistory here.
Is people well trained as slave to forget the difference between freedom and being under regime?
Is freedom still represented in getting packed of pills or drunk on the friday night ball?
I thought these behaviors to belong to teenagers in American Graffity in the 59's...
Is this really 2009 or are we time traveling back?
Such actions can't be left in the hands of a small amount of brave activists, but they need to become debate for the actual schools by advanced teachers, for collectives to discuss as informative matters, community based centres to develope research on it
So as they have to be matters for some to learn what it means the real thinking and the independence, sovereign of thought.
Interviews to people in the region and Shell to Sea areas. local citizens collectives and other local information points.
I am not aware if this has been activated but, especially now that someone is jailed, would someone think from Indymedia to drop into a popular celebration and start interviewing people on the matter?
Would be the Police of their own Peace able to arrest them also, for activating a survey?
can two guys get months of jail with no mass response for these events?
This is makes me feel frustrated
and I am afraid it's nothing to do with being on not being at the march.
We need to say something together and loud in every little working place.
Please send abundant details and documentation on the Shell to Sea files and case, from the reasons of the protests to the individual actions.
please send back links and information on the detailed actual struggle so as we can pass it around the world and make this case be familiar for all those who not getting Indymedia have not much knowledge of this action.
who can pass this information?
Can someone come around and discuss the fact to local people?
Or are we meant to instruct people to become educated puppets and to end suicidal at their 35th anniversary so no pension will be even due from the government?

My support not only to those who have been arrested in this protest, but also to all those supporting it and making this trial return to his own wrong corner.

I suggest to end the adolescence period for Ireland and to start to live in adulthood
Hope my comment to be understood in the positive way and to be realised it is addressed not to those who work and invest for everyones change and future, but for all those who doesn't move from the swamp mud.

I will invite someone to present this fact on the 14th of August during an art event, for instance.
There is anyone who will be able to tell us what is going on with slide shows, pictures and other documents?
please take contact at
by the website
Culture is to spread the reality of people life here now.

thanks for answering on these pages

author by supporterpublication date Tue Aug 04, 2009 22:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

more info

dublin shell to sea website (history of campaign, leaflets to download)

author by dunkpublication date Wed Aug 05, 2009 09:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Appreciate if anyone can respond to some of the questions raised on after the screening of the williams doc

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