Campaign Profile: Shell To Sea

IssueApril 2007

About: Shell to Sea is a grassroots campaign in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. The local community is pitted against a powerful consortium of oil companies, led by Shell, who want to build a high pressure gas pipeline and processing terminal in the area. The Irish government is totally in support of Shell and has treated its own people with contempt. Prime Minister Bertie Aherne specifically changed the law so that private companies can acquire land without the owner's permission. As Minister For Finance in the 1990s, he also changed the tax system in favour of the oil companies, who now take most of the profits.

Established: Though some local people were opposed to the project from the start, the campaign started officially on 29 June 2005 - when a Dublin judge sentenced the “Rossport Five” to indefinite imprisonment for contempt of court. The men-along with many others-had refused to submit to an injunction which would have allowed Shell construction workers onto their land. Rossport suddenly became headline news, and support groups sprang up all over Ireland.

Successes: The Rossport Solidarity Camp was established in a boggy field along the pipeline route - a focus for energetic organising - and a peaceful picket has been held outside the terminal site since 2005. Despite the Irish government sending in more than 170 police to break it up last October, the picket continues.

Local people have also made connections with other fenceline communities around the world who have suffered at the hands of oil corporations

Solidarity: Local campaigners are asking people to protest at their nearest Irish embassy, spread the word, boycott Shell, come and visit - and join in action. People are always welcome at the camp and the picket - especially to act as legal observers, whose presence makes the gardai more accountable and less aggressive.

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