Protests take place in Irish cities as state forces move in support of Shell.
Friday October the sixth saw protests in Galway, Cork, Belfast and at four locations in Dublin in response to the increased police presence at Shell’s refinery construction site in Mayo. At least two of the solidarity actions were visited by Special Branch. Several other protests have also taken place around the country in the last week.
Between 170 and 200 police breached the picket lines in Mayo on Tuesday morning. Riot police were kept on stand by. Demonstrators were manhandled out of the way and two were injured. Shell sub-contractors were able to access the site for the rest of the week, assisted by this large police presence. The construction site had been closed down by pickets since July 2005, prior to this a couple of months of work had been carried out.
Campaigners claim police on Tuesday deliberately herded the crowd into an area of rubble and loose stone in the hope of provoking a riot. Much of the press is running smear stories allegeding the Shell to Sea campaign is run by the Provisional IRA and that pro-Shell locals are subject to paramilitary style intimidation.
The sub-contractors, the principal firm is Roadbridge, are mostly carrying out drainage work on the site, prior to winter, as the site has become heavily waterlogged. Removal of the peat that covers the site is due to re-start in mid-Spring 2007 and actual construction is planned to begin in mid-July 2007.