Wednesday, 17 September 2008

No greater love has this

The Corrib Gas Field is a reserve of natural gas situated 80 km off the west coast of County Mayo containing 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The gas field was discovered in 1996 by Enterprise Oil, operating in a consortium with Saga Petroleum. The Corrib Gas Project, directed by a consortium of companies now led by Royal Dutch Shell, seeks to bring the gas ashore at Glengad in the Barrony of Erris in North West Mayo and to pump the unrefined gas 9km inland through sand dunes, a Special Area of Conservation, and then through inhabited area to a refinery located on a boggy hill where it would be cleaned and depressurized for sale and export.

All the problems regarding environmental and community concerns result from the location of the refinery. A recent petition of the 1200 Kilcommon residents clearly showed that while they are not against bringing the natural gas ashore, the majority do not support the project in its current form. Protests followed and five men were jailed for 94 days for obstructing Shell workers who were starting pipe laying on the land owned by three of the men.

A protest camp was organised, but in July 2007 the camp was served with notice to evict by Mayo County Council which cited the unauthorised nature of the structures erected and the potential damage to a Special Area of Conservation. As soon as the camp left Shell moved in to start illegally drilling boreholes on the same Special Area of Conservation, despite protests and not having permission, then the Shell pipe laying ship Solitaire moved into place.

This was all too much for Maura Harrington, a 42kg (6st 9lb) former headmistress who informed the commander of Shell's Solitaire that if it came into the bay she would begin a hunger strike and carry on till the ship went away, she said that her "action sprang out of her despair over the actions not just of Shell but of the local authorities, the Garda, and the government.”

The latest development is ‘damage’ to the Solitaire. Shell has already announced they will be removing it from the area for repairs. At the moment Harrington does not plan to stop, she said, in a command of English that only the Irish have, that she "trusts Shell about as far as I can throw the Solitaire," but even if she does stop, she will certainly start again when the boat returns.

As a headmistress she is obviously thinking of the environment that will remain in the future for ‘her’ children and while part of me shudders at the path she is taking, another has admiration for her courage and commitment. In the words of John 15:13 “The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends”. I hope and pray that it does not come to that, but play the above and see how you feel about the situation. If you would like to know more about the Rossport Solidarity Camp and Shell, please click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting use of the old (pre-christian)Irish practice of 'fasting in distraint'. Check out the old laws in Crith Gablach.

This fasting while on the doorstep of the offender (fasting done by the offended) worked as a strong social control against the powerful.

Cool old time stuff and of course, used by Mahatma Gandhi to great effect against the English.

Just another overeducated medievalist.....