Justice For The Rossport 5
Organisation: Shell to Sea
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Justice For The Rossport 5

National Rally
Sat. 1st Oct, 2pm
Garden of Remembrance

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

22nd March 2024

This poster, issued by Shell To Sea, was produced in 2005 ahead of the Justice for The Rossport 5 National Rally held in Dublin. The issue of Rossport and Shell to Sea was of considerable significance both then and after and this is the first document directly relating to the campaigns around them.

As noted here :

The Rossport Five (Irish: Cúigear Ros Dumhach) are Willie Corduff, brothers Philip and Vincent McGrath, Micheál Ó Seighin and James Brendan Philbin, from Kilcommon parish, Erris, County Mayo, Ireland. In 2005, they were jailed for civil contempt of court after refusing to obey a temporary court injunction forbidding them to interfere with work being undertaken by Shell on their land.

On foot of the jailing of the five:

There were protests all over Ireland during the period of the men’s imprisonment, with filling stations of Shell, and its junior partner Statoil, being picketed and blockaded by both political activists and ordinary members of the public. The protests were driven by the Shell to Sea campaign (then TD Jerry Cowley liaised with the men in prison) which took its name following a meeting with Burren campaigners in January 2005 Shell to Sea. Defending his company’s stance, Shell Ireland‘s CEO Andy Pyle said: “The fact is that we’ve gone through a process, and we have five people who don’t like the outcome.” All Shell sites around Rossport and Bellinaboy were blockaded by the men’s neighbours, preventing work. Local TD Michael Ring said that Ireland was now a “dictatorship within a democracy“. In an unusual[citation needed] move by the Irish judiciary, the men were told that a judge would be on hand at any time of day or night if they wanted to purge their contempt, by promising they would no longer hinder Shell employees.

The men were released from Cloverhill Prison on 30 September 2005, after 94 days, when Shell applied to the High Court to have the injunction lifted. This came after intense media and political scrutiny of the case.

As evidenced by the poster the cause of the Rossport 5 and Shell to Sea was very popular.

Shell to Sea’s involvement is outlined here :

Shell to Sea (Irish: Shell chun Sáile) is an Irish organisation based in the parish of Kilcommon in Erris, County Mayo.

It opposes the proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline through the parish, as well as the ongoing construction—by Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Vermilion Energy Trust—of a refinery at Bellanaboy intended to refine the natural gas from the Corrib gas field. It proposes instead that the gas be refined at sea, rather than inland, as is done with Ireland’s only other producing gas field off County Cork. Shell to Sea believes the proximity of a raw natural gas pipeline is a risk to local residents.

The three stated aims of the campaign, as cited on its website, are that “Any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks”, “To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted” and “To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery”.

And the activism around the issue by Shell to Sea was considerable including the Rossport Solidarity Camp, a range of other protests, both local and national.


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