Community resistance in Rossport continues

1 Aug 2009 admin

Maura Harrington – imprisoned for her opposition to Shell: “We all have successes and failures. I was a teacher, my failures work inside the gates at Glengad and Bellanaboy, my successes are outside the gates”.

Second email from George, supporting the community resistance against Shell’s gas plans in Rossport, Ireland:
I drove over to Rossport with Paul yesterday. As we drove alongside the estuary with its sandbanks in celtic designs we talked about the Six Counties. Paul said that he wished now that he had paid more attention to the situation there before because he felt similar things were happening here. ‘People in Ireland don’t like hassle, they wish the north would break off and float away’.

Martin asked me out on the boats again to help bring in a catch of mackerel for a restaurant. He’s offered me work on his boat. We went out with his daughter’s boyfriend this time. The wind was up and there was a strong swell outside the harbour. We dropped the lines fast over the side, watched the bubbles rise up as the weight sank. Martin used the fish scanner to spot the shoals without success. Instead we watched where the gulls were on the sea, and found fish there.

When the gas was discovered the local priest announced that the area ‘which previously only knew emigration and starvation would see jobs and prosperity’. Shell bought off local leaders, like the priest.

He went so far as to fly out in a company helicopter to bless the wellhead. Betty and Fritz arrived too late to a local consultation early on to see him at the bar surrounded by shell men buying him pints. It was enough, they said. At that time the only dissenting voice was Sister Majella, recently returned from Nigeria who warned they would ‘do to you whatthey did to the Delta‘.

Martin says they were never in danger of starving because they had the fish from the sea. Like Pat, he tried emigration, working for a time in New York on construction. He remembers leaving work in the evening with Irish workmates and going down to the British Embassy. It was the time of Bobby Sands’ hunger strike and they waved black flags waved in the streets.

Yesterday in Belmullet they jailed Maura and Niall for four and eight months respectively. We stood around Niall in court after the verdict as he gave instructions. One after another local people came up and shook his hand or hugged him. We hugged and he held onto my hand. Then he was taken out to a waiting cop car.

At the station I got permission to see Maura. She winked at me and gave a statement. In it, she reflected that the judge had asked if all her former pupils from her 36 years as a
teacher were potential anarchists. “We all have successes and failures. I was a teacher, my failures work inside the gates atGlengad and Bellanaboy, my successes are outside the gates”.She asked for a paper,
some money and cigarettes.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of a pipeline explosion in Belgium which killed 24 people. To commemorate this
we organised a candlelit walk on both sides of the estuary. Every large gust of wind blew out most the candles, but people enjoyed being able to come together, particularly after court. In the rain afterwards fifty of us raised cups of tea and hot chocolate to Niall and Maura.

Free Speech Radio Network invited me to produce a feature on Rossport which I’m keen to work on but first I’m coming back to England next week for my sister’s birthday. Soon after that it’s the Climate Camps. I’m going to give a workshop on deportations on charter flights at the Irish Camp.

Focus Areas