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Recent articles by Andrew N Flood
Recent Articles about Ireland / Britain Community struggles
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Protests at Shell HQ against jailing of fisherman Pat O'Donnell
ireland / britain | community struggles | news report Wednesday February 17, 2010 18:34 by Andrew N Flood - WSM - personal capacity andrewnflood at gmail dot com
Over 50 Shell to Sea campaigners gathered at the Shell head quarters in Leeson street Dublin Tuesday evening to protest at the jailing of 52 year old Erris fisherman Pat O'Donnell for resisting Shell's experimental gas pipeline. Pat received a seven month sentence which has the added benefit for Shell of taking his boat off of Broadhaven Bay for the period they need to carry out major underwater construction work and repairs. Pat has twice previously been arrested and held without charge when Shell has needed to carry out work in the bay.
There has been a long running struggle in Erris, an isolated and impoverished area of rural Ireland, for most of the last decade. Shell have been attempting to impose an experimental gas pipeline on the local community many of whose houses lie within the blast radius that would result in the event of a pipeline failure. As well as the issue of pipeline safety the Shell to Sea campaign is also demanding an end to the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway under which Shell and other corporations are been given the oil & gas reserves found around Ireland (minimum value 420 billion) without paying any royalties. The last five years in particular have seen many protests where residents, supported by others who have travelled to the area to show solidarity, have attempted to block construction or dismantle the frequently illegal structures that have been erected. The Irish state has reacted with waves of violence and then arrests and a massive deployment of security forces that has seen over 21 million euro wasted and at its peak seen up to 700 personnel from the police, Navy, airfare and private security forces deployed agains the local community. Workers Solidarity Movement members have been consistently involved alongside others with solidarity work in this struggle both locally and elsewhere in Ireland.
Pat O’Donnell was well known to all of us and all those who have visited the camp as he has spent much time explaining the issues to visitors to the area. Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins said: “Pat O’Donnell is a well respected and popular local fisherman in Mayo. He is known to all in the community and everyone is deeply upset by his imprisonment and the smears against his character for his opposition to the Corrib Gas Project in its current form. Pat O’Donnell is a gentleman who is neither a ‘bully’ nor a ‘thug’. He is standing up his and his community’s rights and has been criminalised and vilified for doing so. It is unacceptable that Shell to Sea campaigners are being criminalised for their opposition to the Corrib Gas Project. The law is being applied in an extremely selective manner in Mayo. Thirty local people were hauled up in front of the courts last week alone all on minor charges.”
Terence Conway, a resident of the area and Shell to Sea spokesperson, said in response to the sentence "the jailing of Pat O Donnell shows selective prosecution on behalf of the Gardaí. Pat O'Donnell was picked out of a crowd of 60 people. The sentences are totally disproportionate to any alleged law-breaking and seem to be a punishment for opposing the Governments' facilitation of Shell. Pat O'Donnell has been a constant thorn in Shell's side as he has refused to be bought off, and has upheld his legal and traditional right to fish in Broadhaven Bay. Now, as Shell prepare to occupy Broadhaven Bay in the coming months for further pipeline work, Pat O'Donnell is conveniently stuck in jail."
Whenever Shell have needed to carry out construction work in the bay Pat has been removed from the scene. In the summer of 2008 and 2009 this mean his arrest while fishing on the bay and his detention without charge until pieces of work had been done. More sinisterly on 11 June 2009 Pat's boat was sunk by 4 armed and masked men who boarded it while he fished at night in the bay shortly after it emerged that several men who had worked as security at the Shell compound the previous summer had been involved in an attempt to start a civil war in Bolivia. (see The Shadow over Erris ).
The jailing of Pat and the sentencing of several other Shell to Sea campaigners comes in the aftermath of An Bord Pleanala vindicating the opposition of the local community to the experimental gas pipeline when it found in November that up to half of Shell's proposed onshore pipeline route was "unacceptable" on safety grounds. Even mainstream journalists have acknowledged that this finding means "members of the local community didn’t just have a right to protest. They had a duty to do so." (Fintan O'Toole, Irish Times, Feb 16). Shell in the meantime are pushing ahead with the construction project with the fullbacking of the Irish state including the 'Green' Party. The Green Party in opposition took part in protests against the experimental pipeline, once in government the same people declared it safe!
This audio file is an interview with Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins carried out during the protest which covers not only Pat's jailing but also the scale of the great oil and gas giveaway under which the energy corporations stand to pocket hundreds of billions that should be funding health and education. After Caoimhe there are some brief comments from Dermot about the anonymous nature of Shell's HQ. The audio file is about 10 minutes in duration.
Fri 09 Oct, 09:40
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A large force of Garda and council workers were deployed at 3.30am today, International Women's Day, to clear Occupy Dame Street (ODS) camp. The camp was completely demolished in the course of the eviction, campers intimidated and their personal property stolen. This was a level of force way out of proportion with the numbers in the camp (about 15 people) and stands in contrast with the lack of resources put into investigating what happened at Anglo, the collapse of which has left a debt of 26,000 Euro on every single person in the country. [Italiano]
Detailed account of Shell's prosecution of 19 more people for ongoing resistance in Erris, Ireland 21:14 Thu 08 Mar 0 comments
The end of February saw 19 Shell to Sea campaigners, including a WSM member, being prosecuted on 80 charges for civil disobediance against Shell's decade long attempt to impose an experimental high pressure raw gas pipeline on the communities of Erris. Over 8,000 euro in fines were handed down by this special sitting of the Belmullet court and Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway was given two 3-month prison sentences under section 8 of the Public Order Act for blocking the road on two seperate occasions, a 'crime' that anyone following the struggle will be aware Shell's private security company committs three times a day with the co-operation of the Gardai. (Image: Community show support in advance of the court cases, J Bender, RSC)
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Despite the opposition of the governing SInn Fein party, relatives of families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and political supporters, including Irish anarchists, marched in remembrance last Saturday. A report from the anarchists present and a background to the issues behind those determined to continue the annual commemoration. [Italiano]
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Occupy Belfast seized the initiative Monday by re-possessing the former Bank of Ireland building in Royal Avenue gaining media coverage both here and across the world. Around a dozen protestors including a WSM member entered the building, unfurled banners and put up barricades despite early attempts by the police to illegally evict us. A WSM member who took part gives us his views on the occupation below.
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The 'Occupy X' movement arrived in Ireland over the weekend when a core group of around 50 people set up camp at the Central Bank Plaza on Dame street. Numbers grew to a few hundred at times over the next days and nights as supporters came down to join in for a while and the curious stopped to see what was going on. Issues highlighted by participants included the bank bail out, IMF intervention & the ongoing Great Oil & Gas Giveaway.more >>
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Over the Last 12 months, particularly since Christmas the housing and homeless problem has deepened significantly. From last summer the amounts of families’ registering as homeless went from 264 to now, which are 531. The number of families that are registered as being in need of emergency accommodation is 792 adults with 1,112 dependent children. These statics were issued by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive. This is a 100% rise within 12 months, but yet the state has not come out and said there is a crisis in housing.
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“Ours is a society in which, in every field, one group of people makes decisions, exercise control, limits choices, while the great majority have to accept these decisions, submit to this control and act within the limits of these externally imposed choices. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of housing: one of those basic human needs which throughout history and all over the world people have satisfied as well as they could for themselves, using the materials what were at hand and their own, and their neighbors labor. The marvelously resourceful anonymous vernacular architecture of every part of the globe is a testimony to their skill, using timber, straw, grass, leaves, hides, stone, clay, bone, earth, mud sand even snow. Consider the igloo: maximum enclosure of space with minimum of labor. Cost of materials and transportation, nil. And all made of water. Nowadays, of course, the Eskimos live on welfare handouts in little northern slums. Man, as Habraken says “no longer houses himself: he is housed” – Colin Wardmore >>
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The Workers Solidarity Movement has decided to withdraw from the Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes. Please see statement below. We have made a donation of €1,000 towards paying off the debts of CAHWT.
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