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The anti-SHELL struggle in Ireland

category ireland / britain | environment | feature author Thursday July 21, 2005 20:40author by Andrew - Anarkismo Report this post to the editors

Details from Irish anarchists of the struggle that has seen 5 local activists jailed

Residents of the Eris peninsula in North Mayo have for five years being fighting against a proposed high-pressure gas pipeline line. The pipeline will pass over land, approaching farms and houses as close as 20 metres in some cases. A consortium comprising Shell, Marathon and Statoil is building the pipeline

For about a month now locals with some help from outside have been blockading the proposed refinery site, the Shell depot and the site where the pipeline is supposed to come ashore. This July five of them jailed for refusing to allow Shell from moving onto their own land which has sparked off an escalating round of nationwide protests including the blockading of Shell and Statoil filling stations and depots.

Irish anarchists have been playing a role in these protests for some time including a few who have been working with the locals for months. A number of reports have already been carried on Anarkismo.net - here we bring these together with some more detailed explanations about what is going on.

Background

Why is Shell jailing protesters in Ireland?
A background to the case
Residents of the Eris peninsula in North Mayo have for five years being fighting against a proposed high-pressure gas pipeline line. The pipeline will pass over land, approaching farms and houses as close as 20 metres in some cases. A consortium comprising Shell, Marathon and Stataoil is building the pipeline

Protest camp against Shell pipeline in Ireland
Last June bank Holiday weekend dozens of activists headed to the western coast of Ireland to join local residents at a protest camp against a Shell gas pipeline being brought ashore there. Two WSM members report on the camp and the issue

The Environment & Animal Rights
a Workers Solidarity Movement position paper
We value humanity over all other life on earth although we recognise that our planet is a complex and developing web of interdependent life forms. The survival of humanity depends on maintaining balance within this web, the variety of its' species and habitats. All human activity, especially industry, mining etc. must be conducted in a way conscious of this reality

Local anarchist writings

Workers Solidarity - People Power Confronts Shell in Ireland
The jailing of 5 Rossport men for refusing to allow Shell to install a potentially lethal pipeline has suddenly focussed attention on the whole project. Shell received a lucrative deal from the government in the late 1990s, minimum tax and no royalties to the Irish state.

Free the Rossport 5
Jack White Branch of the WSM on the jailing
In jail since June 29th because they won't obey a court order not to obstruct the building of a high pressure gas pipeline passing through their own lands. The state has lined up behind the gas consortium of Shell, Statoil and Marathon.

Action reports

Update on Shell campaign in Ireland and news of picket on Statoil Ushers Quay
Over a dozen people picketed Statoil on Ushers Quay on Friday 5th August as part of the ongoing campaign of solidarity with the 5 men jailed for resisting a potentially dangerous gas pipeline being built near their houses. Significant victories have now been won in the campaign.

Thousands march against Shell in Dublin
Saturday 23 July saw Irish anarchists joining thousands of other people to march through the streets of Dublin to demand the release of the Rossport 5 - locals jailed by Shell for opposing the construction of a gas pipeline.

Succesful pickets in Dublin against Statoil in solidarity with Rossport 5
On Friday WSM members in Dublin and Cork took part in blockades of Statoil garages and the Shell deport in solidarity with the Rossport 5 - jailed for opposing a dangerous gas pipeline. Here are reports from WSM members at the various garages.

Protest at Irish Consulate In Edinburgh during G8 in support of Rossport 5
A solidarity action calling for the release of the Rossport Five [jailed at the behest of Shell for blockading the construction of a gas pipeline in the west of Ireland] took place today outside the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh. In an action planned from the Irish Barrio and spread through the spokes council system, a bus load of Dissent participants left the camp at 7.30am and picketed the consualte

Shell Oil Depot Blockade In Cork in solidarity with Rossport 5
Oil trucks were prevented from entering and leaving the Shell Central Oil Depot in Cork this morning in solidarity with the Rossport 5 blockade.

Second successful blockade outside the Shell Oil Terminal in Cork
A second successful blockade was held this morning outside the Shell Oil Terminal on Centre Park Rd. in Cork. The blockade was held in solidarity with the Rossport 5. About 20 people turned up at 7.30 am. This time Shell reacted aggressively, 'ordering' protestors away from their gates.

author by oliver - capital terminuspublication date Tue Jul 26, 2005 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

id really like to see, as much as possible, the diverse theoretical and agitational news of this sight become more fused.

to that end, what lessons is the WSM drawing from the shell struggle? what kind of strategic thinking and goals does the wsm have for the shell struggle?

author by Andrew - WSM (personal capacity)publication date Tue Jul 26, 2005 21:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The honest response to this is that beyond our general position paper on the environment and some pretty basic attempts to link it to wider issues we haven't yet had that sort of discussion at the level of the national organisation. Rossport is very rural and located on the west coast whereas all our branches are in east coast cities.

The scale of this struggle sprang on us before we really had a chance to discuss out the issues. Some of our members have been involved for quite a while but somewhat on an individual basis. The decision of the 5 Rossport men to refuse to obey the court injunction (which meant going to jail) meant that this struggle emerged from relative obscurity to a major issue very, very fast.

Currently each of our 3 branches is acting on this issue as each branch reckons falls within the logic of our position papers. There is of course some informal co-ordination and discussion via personal contact, email and inter branch meetings. But none of these are decision making structures.

Likewise the editorial group of Workers Solidarity have published articles in this issue of our paper and the previous one (which is unfortunately not yet online). One branch has published a leaflet and members have written individual pieces for web publication both here and on indymedia.ie.

As such this provides an interesting example of 'emergancy' anarchist communist decision making methods. An organisation that was simply centralised would have dealt this this by having the national officers decide what to do and then give instructions to the branches and members. Instead we have branches and members autonomously interpreting pre-existing policy - the federalism bit of the platform if you like. The is possible because over the last decade we have built up a substantial body of defined positions.

All this is of some interest to us because it involves putting theory into practise. Up to last year the WSM was just one branch in one city and a couple of members in another city which made decision making easy. But due to rapid growth we now have three branches between Dublin and Cork and have had to put the previously quite theoretical inter conference decision making structures in our constitution into operation. This is involving a lot of debate and discussion and our actions around the Rossport 5 are now giving us something to measure how well things are working against.

So not the answer you were looking for but hopefully one you will find useful. RBR10 due out in the Autumn will include a major theoretical look at environmental struggles based on the experience of one of our members over the last five or so years. It's promising to be quite interesting.

author by Oliver - capital terminuspublication date Fri Jul 29, 2005 04:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm a little confused - Chekov Feeney's analysis of NEFAC seems to imply that the WSM is a multi-city organization, when he critiques their looser structure (not having locals and so forth).

Is it possible to elaborate a little further on this?

author by Andrew - Anarkismopublication date Fri Jul 29, 2005 20:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I presume you mean this article An Irish Anarchist in the Northeast - Reflections on the North American Anarchist Movement?

I just scan read it and he doesn't actually seem to mention WSM structures in it at all. At the time we would have had one branch in Dublin and a couple of members in Cork. On that limited basis we did co-ordinate activity as the article might imply but otherwise I think he was making a critique based more on theory and discussions with NEFACers then anything else.

Our organisational method has always included trying to build theoretical preparation in advance of need so even then we had pretty much all of our current constitution in place.

author by Joe - Anarkismopublication date Fri Jul 29, 2005 23:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Guardian has some coverage of Shell including a substantial quote from Workers Solidarity

Related Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/editor/story/0,,1538669,00.html
author by oliver - capital terminuspublication date Sun Jul 31, 2005 09:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i mis-remembered that article and could have sworn that it detailed the WSM, however i see that was not the case.

author by Andrew - Anarkismopublication date Mon Oct 17, 2005 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Rossport campaign against Shell gas Pipeline shows way forward in community struggle

In a small corner of Mayo in Ireland over the Summer a mass campaign of non-violent direct action systematically, and in part spontaneously, shut down a major development being carried out by several multi-national corporations and the state. Since this article was written the five men in jail as a result of these protests have been released pending a court hearing.

Related Link: http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=1520
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