Tomorrow (Saturday March 27) will be Pat O'Donnell's 46th day behind bars in Castlerea Prison. Pat, a prominent Shell to Sea campaigner and fisherman from north Mayo, was convicted of public order offences relating to a cavalcade in support of fellow campaigner Maura Harrington who was on hunger-strike at the time. He received a seven month jail term for his supposed offence.
A national demonstration, organised by the Shell to Sea campaign group demanding justice and the immediate release of O'Donnell, is to be held tomorrow (Saturday March 27 ) outside Castlerea Prison, County Roscommon.
éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey has once again stressed the urgency and importance of people attending this show of solidarity with Pat O'Donnell and to demand his release. Speaking in advance of tomorrow's demonstration, Casey said that there were also other fundamental issues surrounding Shell's planned pipeline and the policing of it that need to be exposed.
He said: "Pat O'Donnell is in jail as a result of the unjust and corrupt political system that operates in this country. It is a system that has one law for the wealthy and powerful, another law for everyone else."
"As a result of Pat's determination to resist Shell's planned pipeline in north Mayo and to stand up to the illegal bully-boy tactics of Shell's security and Shell's police force, the Gardai, he was viewed as a threat to the status quo and the state itself."
"Pat O'Donnell's jailing is wrong. What Shell are trying to impose on the people of north Mayo is wrong. The giveaway by the political establishment of hundreds of billions of euro worth of oil and gas to Shell is wrong."
He concluded: "By attending this demonstration tomorrow, you can send a strong message to the political elite in Leinster house that Pat O'Donnell must be freed, that Shell's pipeline must be stopped and that all our natural resources must be nationalised and utilised for the benefit of all the people on this island and not just for Shell's shareholders."
Echoing the calls for a large turn-out at tomorrow's protest, éirígí Tir Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Colm Mac Giolla Easbuig says that Mr O'Donnell should be released from jail immediately and that the Twenty-Six County justice system should not be used to do the dirty work of multi-national fuel company Shell.
Mac Giolla Easbuig said, “Pat O'Donnell is now in the second month of a seven month jail sentence on trumped up public order offences. This is solely because he has taken a public stand against Shell who are forcing a pipeline, carrying high pressure raw gas, through Broadhaven Bay and ashore against the wishes of the majority of the residents of the area. This man has been vilified in the press and his life and that of his family turned upside down for the simple reason that he steadfastly refuses to let Shell run roughshod over the community in which he lives and has refused to be bought off by Shell.”
He added: “He and his son have been arbitarily arrested while fishing with no charges arising and Shell boats have torn his fishing gear from their moorings. He had his livelihood taken from him when a group of masked men boarded his fishing boat and held him and his crew at gunpoint in the wheelhouse, while some of the gang went into the engine room and scuttled his boat. Pat and his crew had to be rescued from a liferaft as his vessel sank. At demonstrations against Shell's actions Mr O'Donnell has been violently assaulted by Gardai leaving him with facial injuries and broken teeth."
"We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis in this country and the state should not be complicit in the giving away of hundreds of billions of euros worth of oil and gas to private business interests. Rather it should be used by the state for the people of this island and refined at sea in a safe and environmentally friendly manner in line with best international practices."
He concluded: “We in éirígí are reminding people and once again calling for as many people as possible to attend this national protest outside Castlerea Prison at 3.30pm tomorrow, to demand the immediate release of Mr O'Donnell and to secure justice for him and the people he represents. The hope is that this protest will send a message, not only of support to Mr O'Donnell, but a message to Shell and the Twenty-Six County government that the Irish people will not be walked on for the interests of foreign multi-national companies and their shareholders."
Anyone wishing to travel to the protest from Donegal can contact éirígí Tír Chonaill on 086 8845476
Anyone wishing to travel to the protest from Sligo can contact éirígí Sligeach on 087 1501952