Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has called for the immediate release from prison of prominent Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington. He also said that her jailing at this time was a deliberate move by the state to silence one of Shell’s most vociferous opponents in north Mayo at the same time that an An Bord Pleanala oral public hearing begins to discuss Shell’s planned pipeline.
Maura was returned to the jail on Monday night for refusing to pay a fine arising from her peaceful opposition to Shell Oil’s project in Mayo. She was previously imprisoned in March for 28 days. Shell to Sea campaigners, including many éirígí activists temporarily halted her return to Mountjoy prison. As the car carrying Harrington arrived at the Dublin prison at around 10pm on Monday, éirígí and Shell to Sea activists blockaded the road, stopping the car in its tracks. Gardaí then intervened to forcibly ensure Harrington arrived in custody. Maura was also a guest speaker at éirígí’s Ard Fheis on Saturday in the West County Hotel, Chapelizod, Dublin.
Casey said: “The jailing of Maura Harrington on Monday night is the latest move in a concerted effort by the state to intimidate and silence opposition to the giveaway of our natural resources to Shell and their proposed pipeline in County Mayo. Maura’s only crime has been to refuse to bow down and accept the diktats of Shell and the forces of this state who have lined up against the people they claim to represent.”
“The timing of her arrest is no coincidence. It comes at a crucial time, as an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanala has just commenced to discuss Shell’s proposed pipeline. It also comes at a time when repression has intensified against the entire Shell to Sea campaign, including a savage assault on Willie Corduff, who was severely beaten by a gang of masked men, believed to be Shell security.”
He added: “What Shell, with the collusion of the Gardaí and their political masters, are doing in north Mayo is totally unacceptable. The only realistic solution to this dispute is the nationalisation of our natural resources in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. This would also enable all the genuine environmental concerns of the local community to be addressed in a proper manner. At a time when our health and education services face massive cutbacks, when nurses and other essential front line staff are being laid off, when hospital wards are being shut down and special needs classes being scrapped, Fianna Fáil and their Green party colleagues’ refusal to end the giveaway of our natural resources is truly shameful.”
He concluded: “Maura must be released immediately and éirígí pledges its continuing support to campaigning for her release. While this state continues to give away our much needed natural resources and act as brutal enforcers for Shell, acts of civil disobedience, such as those carried out by éirígí and Shell to Sea activists on Monday night, will also continue.”