Saturday 10 November 2007

Three held as latest gas site protest gets violent

THREE people were arrested and a man was hospitalised during a commemoration march by almost 300 protesters to the main gates of the Corrib Gas terminal in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, yesterday.

The protest, which began at 7am, became noisy and abusive as activists flung themselves on to the roadway in front of a truck carrying huge boulders, which they believed was destined for the refinery site.

Gardai tried to keep the roadway clear but the protesters repeatedly kept returning to throw themselves on to the road. Shell said later the lorry was not involved with their construction activities on the terminal site.

Gardai taking part in the security operation appeared to outnumber the protesters. One was slightly injured after being punched in the face. A male demonstrator from Dublin, who injured his leg in an incident beside the truck, was taken by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital for treatment.

Caoimhe Kearns of Dublin Shell to Sea said: "During the pushing and shoving he was knocked to the ground. He was in an awful lot of pain."

After the march, some protesters claimed they had been "manhandled".

Oisin O'Dubhláin, who travelled from Cavan, said: "We have a right to walk these roads. People understandably get angry when they are prevented from going to a peaceful protest. To me that's not democracy."

Willie Corduff, one of the five men jailed for their opposition to the onshore gas pipeline, predicted bigger trouble in the future when Shell tried to get on to peoples' property to secure a land corridor to the terminal.

He added that the company was not even trying to obtain alternative route corridors for the onshore pipeline. Mr Corduff, who was accompanied on the protest by his wife, Mary, claimed Shell wasn't even trying to resolve the dispute because they were "going to get the Government to do their dirty work".

He predicted: "They might succeed in finishing the terminal but they won't succeed in getting a pipe to it". Yesterday's march was held to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the State execution of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight comrades who were opposed to Shell activities, which they described as "environmental destruction" in their homeland.

Tom Shiel
Irish Independent

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