Shell protest in London links Ireland and Nigeria

IssueJune - August 2004
News by Brian Bunyan

Crossing the Irish Sea, the “Battle of the Bog” reached London at the end of September, as protests were held outside Shell's South Bank headquarters.

Carried out in solidarity with the Irish “Shell to Sea” campaign to resist the development of a gas pipeline in a pristine conservation area in Rossport, Co Mayo, protesters managed to catch the police and local security off-guard when they dumped two tonnes of sand on Shell's doorstep and dropped a 40-foot banner reading “danger - keep out - shell hell in operation” from nearby lamp-posts.

Remember Saro-Wiwa

The Mayo protesters have become known as the “Bogoni” as a mark of respect of the Ogoni people's fight against Shell in Nigeria, although the two situations are very different - the latter has been marked by death and violence.

This November marks the tenth anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni colleagues by the Nigerian state for campaigning against the devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies, including Shell.

Rossport revisited

In Ireland, Shell has been granted permission to build a cross-land gas pipeline that will connect to an on-shore refinery (see PN2465). Representatives of the company have been given unprecedented access to people's homes via compulsory acquisition orders.

At the end of June five men - the “Rossport Five” - were imprisoned for an indefinite period after breaching a court order banning them from impeding Shell employees' access to their own land. All five were released from prison in early October after lawyers for Shell Ireland reportedly requested the court order to be lifted. However, as PN went to press, all five were due to appear in court again to receive their sentence for breaking the order in the first place - even though Shell have effectively asked for it to be dropped (as if 94 days in the clink was not enough). Court support and demonstrations were planned for Dublin High Court.