A north Mayo farmer who was jailed over his opposition to the Corrib gas pipeline and an Icelandic businessman who lobbied the Government to implement the new ban on driftnetting for salmon are among six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Willie Corduff, one of the "Rossport five", and Orri Vigfusson of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund have been selected for Europe and for the islands and island nations respectively - the first time that the award has gone to Ireland, or an Irish-related campaign.
Along with winners from Peru, Mongolia, Zambia and Canada, they will be celebrated in San Francisco Opera House on Monday and will meet US congressional leaders as part of a series of functions in Washington DC next week.
Each winner of the prize, known as the "Nobel" of the environment, is awarded $125,000 (€92,000). It is endorsed by more than 100 heads of state and eight previous winners have been appointed to or elected to national office in their countries. The 1991 winner for Africa, Wangari Maathai, was also awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2004, and the late Nigerian writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed with compatriots over his opposition to Shell's activities in Ogoniland in the Niger delta, received the award in 1995.
Mr Corduff said he did not start objecting to the Corrib gas pipeline to win prizes.
"It isn't about the money, it is about our health and safety and that of our children," the father of six, who is being accompanied by his wife, Mary, said.
He added that he hoped to use the money to help further the campaign, while acknowledging that his family had undergone considerable hardship since the Corrib gas developers - Shell, Statoil and Marathon - sought access to the couple's land.
Mr Corduff, and fellow landowners Philip McGrath, Bríd McGarry and Brendan Philbin were permitted by the High Court earlier this week to continue their counter-claims against Shell E&P Ireland, and the consents held by the project for the existing pipeline route must now be dropped.
The company, which says it is working on a modified pipeline route, must also pay legal costs associated with the injunctions which led to Mr Corduff's jailings.
Shell says it is studying the judgment.
© The Irish Times