People Power Confronts Shell

The jailing of 5 Rossport men for refusing to allow Shell to install a potentially lethal pipeline has suddenly focussed attention on the whole project. But it has done more than highlight safety issues. It has highlighted the cosy relationship between business and the Irish State. Shell received a lucrative deal from the government in the late 1990s, minimum tax and no royalties to the state. Given that few jobs will be created in Mayo, it's hard to see what benefit there is for local people.

It has demonstrated the inherent bias the courts -the courts will throw an ordinary working person in prison without a second thought, while the likes of Ben Dunne and Charlie Haughey can bribe and lie to their hearts' content and still sleep in their millionaire beds.

And it has made crystal clear that the only thing that can oppose the strength of the State and the corporations is people power. Ever since the jailing, pickets of the Shell site in Co. Mayo have meant that they are unable to do any meaningful work there. This delay will cost them hundreds of thousands of euro. Moreover, pickets of Shell and Statoil stations have sprung up around country, greatly impacting on the companies' profits..

The demands of the Rossport residents and the Shell to Sea Campaign are simple: the men should be freed and Shell must move their dangerous operations offshore. It's a realisable demand, especially if the massive mobilisations we've seen in Mayo continue to escalate.

The more pickets and disruption caused, the less profit there is for Shell and so the more willing they will be to see sense. It won't be easy, especially as Shell have the forces of the State on their side, but people power has won before. It can do it again.

Anti-Shell demon

See also

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This edition is No87 published in July 2005