Reports from Shell to Sea, Ballinaboy, Mayo

Mayo protest banner January '0711.01.2007

Reports from Monday , Tuesday and Thursday at proposed Shell refinery site, of Shell to Sea protesters and photos of same.

Back to work for Shell to Sea

Monday the 8th saw a return to work for Shell and its contractors at the proposed Ballinaboy terminal site. Shell to Sea protesters turned out in force to welcome them back, as the Gardai welcomed us back. A group of about 70 locals assembled as they have every working day predawn at 7 am to protest against the terminal and shell. The Gardai turned out in force(no pun intended). There was a changing of the Gardai, the grunts at least but most of the senior officers were the same tired, aggressive, drink smelling clowns that we have been dealing with, and assaulted by, for months.

People attempted to block trucks with new enthusiasm by standing in front of them. This was soon followed by the usual assaults taking place with Gardai flinging people in the drains and ditches, shoving people to the ground etc.

Apparently the Gardai are unfamiliar with the process of arresting someone if they break the law, but then perhaps there is no law being broken? Supt Joe Gannon explained in the Garda Review that the political decision has been taken to not arrest protesters, so as not to create “martyrs�. This standing decision has resulted in Gardai using other means to dominate the situation, namely assaulting and intimidating people.

After isolating one individual, Garda GW 65 Sean Colleran took his guitar and case, took out the guitar and threatened to break it before leaving it on the wet road, who said school yard bullies grow up?
Approximately 40 Gardai were deployed on the ground with a similar number retained on a bus on stand by.
Monday evening Shell to Sea attended the monthly Mayo Co. Co. meeting in Castlebar to protest against Mayo Co. Co. collusion with Shell in relation to the EIS, the planning permission and the cold venting. About 30 protesters attended this, having watched and listened to over 2 1/2 hours of Councillors’ moaning about the hedge trimming operation s and other road related issues, the monthly meeting finally commenced properly, and protesters had to briefly interrupt the meeting to demand a legitimate response to ongoing issues which the Co. Co. has tried to brush under the carpet. On receiving assurances that these issues would be replied to all protesters exited the meeting.

Tuesday 9th

The morning of Tuesday 9th saw similar scenes, with an attempt by Mr.Corduff to educate the Gardai as to what their actions were facilitating, namely profits of big business and the local populations death, be it from a sudden explosion or slowly from various forms of pollution to the whole area, land, water and air. Below are images from today, apologies for lack of clarity, its still dark in the morning and the Gardai jackets reflect the flash and obscure the photos. My camera also received a punch from Sgt. Robinson, possibly as “revenge� because someone dared to step out over the white line and block a truck for approx 5 seconds before being rugby tackled by himself and thrown at the ditch.

For anyone who read the Garda review magazine which had a special on the issue, you may remember how the Gardai are feeling hard done by because they do not receive the Irish speaking bonus when stationed in Belmullet, yet apparently speak Irish everyday at the service hatch in the station. One might then think that some member of the force can speak Irish, fluently or otherwise but I have yet to see a Garda who can even take a name or address in Irish let alone speak Irish, despite being required to do so when addressed in Irish as many people do so when demonstrating each day at Ballinaboy.

Thursday 11th January 2007.
Day 100 of a community under siege

A storm continued to rage from the night before as demonstrators gathered at 7am. As the time came to move at 7.30 the decision was taken to drive up the road to the terminal in front of the Shell convoy as opposed to the normal walk. Everyone hopped into their vehicles and drove slowly up the road, the Gardai being caught off guard didn’t know how to respond or deal with the situation effectively. Eventually they managed to stop most of the protester convoy and waved on the Shell traffic. Demonstrators parked at HQ outside the proposed Ballinaboy terminal and gathered at the entrance gates.
Attempting to appeal to the morals and conscience of the Gardai proved futile as they kept people back to escort the Shell stone trucks on site.

Then a grinning Superintendent Joe Gannon, who has until recently played a more low key role strutted up behind the Garda line as he drafted up more and more Gardai until they had approx 40-50 there and then gave the order to drive the protesters back, despite the fact that the trucks where getting in. With out warning the Gardai as a whole charged forward and proceeded to shove, push or wallop all in front of them ,driving all before them. Mary Corduff, Rossport 5 Willie Corduff’s wife, was knocked to the ground and then dragged by the Gardai as they continued to charge forward. They kept shoving people back until the entire area in front of Shells site was clear and everyone was removed form the road also. Sgt Butler MY28 was clearly delighted at his chance to once again bully and harass people, grinning, laughing and taunting after the charge.
Amazingly the largest single Garda operation in the country, executed every day one way or the other, failed to make any news.