The Current Situation
This current work is the final attempt by Shell to drive a highly dangerous experimental unrefined raw gas pipeline through North Erris. Several other pipeline routes have been successfully resisted by the communities in Northern Mayo.
This latest attempt in what Shell describe as the final proposal is worrying for a community which has experienced first hand Shell's poor safety record. Now Shell are taking the first steps in a two year project by attempting to fence off a large area at Aughoose. They intend to use this compound at the start point for a 5km tunnel that will run to the pipeline landfall at Glengad.
Shell is no doubt keen to act, given the almost daily criticism in the mainstream media of the terms of the deal they received from the Irish Government under the direction of Bertie Ahern and Ray Bourke. With a recent announcement in the UK that taxes on Oil and Gas production will rise, the Irish government is under ever increasing pressure to get a fairer deal for people in Ireland. This and the pending legal challenge are no doubt forcing Shell to hurry construction on the project which is already several years behind schedule.
The joint security from the Gardai and the secretive controversial private firm IRM-S is worrying. In 2009, Patrick O Donnell and Willie Corduff, who featured in the Film “The Pipe”, were violently attacked. The attack on Mr O'Donnell saw his boat sunk at sea by armed and masked men.
Shell chose the day to start construction carefully, when several campaigners were on their way to support Maura Harrington who has been summonsed for sentencing on charges that are now over a year old. This action is widely seen as blackmail by the State in an effort to end Mrs Harrington's resistence to the pipeline. The timing of Shell's actions suggests they are being provided with details of when court cases are happening. There have already been many arrests that have been timed to remove campaigners from the area at other key phases in the construction, most notably the 2008 and 2009 arrests of Pat O'Donnell while he worked at sea in order to allow the pipe laying ship the Solitaire to lay pipes across his fishing grounds.