Since late 2000 there has been an on-going attempt by multinationals and the Irish state to devastate a remote coastal area of county Mayo with a toxic refinery and a high pressure production gas pipeline. Since then there has been an ongoing struggle to keep Shell out of Mayo. Pickets, blockades, benefit gigs, demonstrations and speaking tours have been happening all over Ireland, the UK and beyond.
On Februry 18th 2006, activists from Rising Tide, Rhythms of Resistance and other groups shut down a Shell petrol station in sections of Upper Street in Islington, North London, for four hours, as part of an international day of action against the Rossport pipeline.
Two daring climbers scaled onto the garage roof and hung a banner reading Stop Shell Hell in North West Ireland Now, whilst others blockaded the entrance wearing white biohazard suits spelling out Shell Hell. Rythms of Resistance blockaded the other entrance with full blown samba rhythms. The petrol pumps were sealed off with ‘caution, global warming’ tape and a huge banner was held across one entrance saying Danger, Keep Out, Shell Hell in Operation. There was loads of interest from the public passing by who stopped to look on, dance and support the action. Two and a half thousand leaflets were given out. Along with hundreds of cars who were unable to fill up today, several supermarket lorries turned back in confusion, unable to get their oil fix to deliver the goods on time.
The cops were there with their mobile cctv unit and fit team as usual but kept their distance until the roof dwellers tried to come down. The activists were attempting to protect the climbers as they left the roof, when around forty cops charged around the corner and contained everyone in against the side of the garage. One girl was violently arrested as the cops pushed and shoved people against the wall (but she was later released without charge). People were then contained under section 50 and told to leave but that they would be arrested if they didn’t give their names and addresses. Concerned with protecting the climbers on their descent, activists stayed put until they were safely on the ground. Shortly thereafter the two climbers were snatched from the group and nicked. Detainees left one by one after being forced under threat of arrest to give a name and address to the cops and blinded by the police camera for photos.
The international day of action was called to draw attention to the struggle to stop the construction of a gas pipeline and refinery in County Mayo, which would transform a remote conservation area of outstanding natural beauty into an environmental disaster zone with serious public health and safety implications.
The pipeline and refinery will poison the area, threatening the safety of the residents who live just metres away, endangering the marine environment and destroying livelihoods based on fishing. Shell’s plans are fully backed by the Irish State, which used compulsory acquisition orders to give Shell access to local people’s lands.
Local residents and people from across Ireland have been fighting back. In 2005, five Rossport residents were jailed for 3 months for attempting to prevent construction workers from entering their land. Residents and activists set up a protest camp on the site of the proposed pipeline and prevented construction by shutting down both the pipeline and refinery building sites.
The battle in Ireland is just one of many struggles against Shell’s environmental and human rights abuses around the world. Shell’s oil empire is also making a huge contribution to climate chaos, trading over 14 million barrels of crude oil equivalent every day. The company’s recent record profits of $23 billion come only at the expense of massive damage
to the climate.
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An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out online