08 July 2005

A thousand join protest over 'Shell five'


08/07/2005 - 18:10:11

Over a thousand people staged a nationwide protest tonight to highlight the plight of the five men jailed over their objections to a gas pipeline in Co Mayo.

The supporters took up their pickets outside Shell garages across the country as the row over the jailing of the men deepened

Micheal O’Seighin, Vincent McGrath, his brother Philip, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin from Rossport in Co Mayo are being held in Cloverhill prison in Dublin for refusing to obey an injunction taken out by Shell.

“It is not good enough for the Government to wash their hands of the Corrib Gas debacle and allow Shell to ride roughshod over the people of Rossport,” Martin Ferris, a Sinn Féin TD, said.

The five men were put in Cloverhill prison last week for obstructing the construction of the pipeline across their land and have stated publicly that they are determined to continue their opposition to the pipeline.

Shell E & P Ireland is seeking to pump gas at high pressure from the Corrib gas field along the pipe to an onshore refinery at Bellanaboy in Mayo as part of a €990m project.

The jailed men want Shell to build the gas refinery offshore because they fear that pumping unrefined gas past their homes will lead to a health and safety risk.

The President of the High Court, Judge Joseph Finnigan, has warned the five men that their fate is in their own hands.

The judge said it was up to the men to purge their contempt of court to be freed from jail.

The jailing of the five men has brought national attention to the campaign against the pipeline, which has been going on since work on it began in 1998.

Protests took place in Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Leitrim, Waterford, Laois, Kilkenny, Kildare and Westmeath.

Mr Ferris said over a thousand people had turned out to protest and hand out leaflets to highlight the men’s plight.

“In the interest of justice it is only right and proper that all people concerned should show their support for the men and their families,” he said.

“They all have families and it has taken an enormous toll on them.”

Mr Ferris said: “The five men should be released immediately. The Government should initiate an independent review of health and safety risks and institute a thorough public investigation into every aspect of Shell’s involvement in this project right back to the shoddy deal that gave them control over the Corrib Field in the first instance.”

The Kerry North TD added: “Mostly everyone I have spoken to is revolted that a multi-national like Shell is infringing on the rights of citizens.”

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