Shell-to-Sea Activists Served With Prison Sentences

3 Aug 2009 admin
Niall with Garda, the Irish police force (photo: Hugh Egan)
Activists in Mayo, Ireland have been resisting Shell’s efforts to lay an illegal onshore pipeline in their community. The courage of these activists, who have risked jail sentences and put their lives on the line, has succeeded in delaying the construction of the pipeline frustrating Shell’s plan to access Ireland’s gas fields. Shell-to-Sea is  an inspiring example of how local struggle can halt an oil giant in its tracks, but their efforts have also brought harsh penalties from a judicial system where the odds are stacked against them.
Below is the latest update from Rossport Solidarity Camp, Mayo, Ireland. The full update can be read here.
In Bellmullet court on Thursday, five Shell to Sea protesters were up for
hearings on charges ranging from last August 2008 to this June 2009. Judge
Anderson dismissed several charges on technical points but was very harsh
in serving two of the campaigners with four and eight month prison
Maura Harrington, a well known Shell to Sea campaigner and spokesperson
who has already spent time in Mountjoy prison twice this year for acts of
civil disobedience against Shell, was given a four month prison sentence
for Section 8 public order charges (failure to obey the directions of a
The judge took quite an interest in the fact that Maura had spent
much of her life as a public servant. She was a school teacher for 36
years in Inver, and would have taught several generations of local people
in Erris. The judge asked Maura if all of her ex-pupils are ‘potential
anarchists’. The court offered a suspended sentence if Maura agreed to
enter into a good behaviour bond to keep the peace. As an objector to the
Shell gas project and an active citizen committed to civil disobedience
exposing the injustice of the Corrib Gas Project, Maura told the court
that she could not agree to such bond conditions, and was given four
months imprisonment for it. Referring to Maura’s refusal to enter into the
peace bond the judge accused Maura of wanting “to be free to assault
members of An Garda Síochána.”
address is:
Niall Harnett was also up for a Section 8 public order charges from an
incident that had happened last 30 August 2008. The timing of these cases
is highly political, as many of these case were only introduced in the
Spring so that hearings and convictions would coincide with the Solitaire
and Shell works this summer, making it more difficult for people to

protest against the project.

Niall received four months in prison for the Section 8 charge. Judge Anderson
ruled that Niall’s bail pending appeal would have stringent conditions,
meaning the appeal conditions would be such that if Niall appeals the
conviction and is released from prison, he must stay away from all Shell
work sites in Erris, including the compound on the beach at Glengad, the
refinery in Bellanboy, and the Shell offices in Belmullet (as well as the
surrounding waters of Erris). However as an objector to the Shell gas
pipeline ‘committed to civil disobedience to Shell’s law’ Niall refused to
sign these bail bond conditions, essentially giving up the opportunity to
be released from prison pending an appeal. He could have had his liberty
by Friday, but he did not feel that he could rightfully agree to such
extreme bail bond conditions which would essentially surrender his right
to protest.
On Friday Maura appealed her conviction, and was released from prison on
bail pending appeal. Niall is unable to do the same because of the
stringent appeal conditions which he was given. He is currently in
Castlerae prison in County Rosscommon, letters are much appreciated. His
Niall Harnett,
Castlerae Prison,
Co. Rosscommon
If you cannot send post, please sent messages of support to
rossportsolidaritycamp[at]gmail[dot]com, and we will pass on the message
(but obviously handwritten letters are nicer). – shell to sea campaign website – latest Rossport info – Rossport soldarity camp website
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