Shell “Armada” arrives on Mayo Beach

September 14, 2008

The largest pipelaying vessel in the world, the 1,300 ft Solitaire has arrived in Broadhaven Bay, in Co. Mayo.

Shell has employed a “small army” of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area.

The Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven km of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib Gas field. Shell’s External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project: “You could describe it as the Corrib armada.” Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.


Thursday, July 24th: Over 40 gardaí, stationed in the Shell compound, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad beach so that Shell could erect 10ft high fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Gardai ordered the crowd to leave the area and then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. Members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when they tore down the cliff-face to create a causeway down to the beach. According to protestors, it was a joint Garda & Shell operation.

Gardai and Shell security formed a cordon around where they were planning to put up the fencing, and then Gardai came in and forcibly removed the protestors who were inside the security bubble. There was little that the group of around 30 protestors could do but watch as the fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the public beach in two, which of course means that users do not have the right of way through the beach.

The legality of the consents are an issue of major concern as it is unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. Green Party Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. A spokeswoman said that all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the Department’s website.

Shell is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. The further destruction of this Special Area of Conservation has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

16th August 2008The Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up again for the purposes of reorganising Shell to Sea resistance to Shell’s latest plans to construct its offshore section of the pipeline from Glengad out to the Corrib Gas Field. Protests are ongoing, involving both Shell to Sea activists and members of the local community.

29th August: An Irish naval vessel was deployed as protests mounted over the controversial Shell gas pipeline. The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.

A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.

2nd September: Another Irish Naval Service vessel arrived off the Mayo Coast. The Irish Naval Service is composed of seven vessels. The priority which is being given to this operation is an indication its political character.

Tuesday September 9th: The Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, as the accompanying security operation intensified. Extra Gardaí; including special public order units have arrived. Local schoolteacher Maura Harrington has gone on hunger strike at the gates of the compound. Her demand is that the Solitaire leave the bay or else her hunger strike will continue.

Wednesday September 10th: Pipelaying work is temporarily suspended. According to local newspaper, The Mayo Echo, unnamed Irish Naval sources have stated their concern that a British nuclear submarine is positioned 11 miles off the Mayo coast and is providing direct assistance to the Irish authorities in monitoring communications. So far the Irish Government has refused either to confirm or deny this report. A Royal Navy spokesman, while refusing to confirm or deny the report, stated that if there is a submarine in Irish waters “then it wouldn’t be there without the permission of the Irish authorities.”


Thursday September 18th: Shell announces that the Solitaire pipe laying ship is to depart from Irish territorial waters and go to Sctoland for repair and assessment. 


Friday September 19thMaura Harrington ends her hunger strike.  




Irish Whitefish Fleet to be downsized as EU Fishing Conference takes place in Luxembourg

June 23, 2008

The fuel crisis facing fishermen across Europe will dominate the agenda when EU fisheries ministers meet in Luxembourg later today.

Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg is expected to outline details of a financial package agreed by the EC to help fishermen struggling due to these costs.

Ireland’s Agriculture Minister, Brendan Smith, has also promised to also seek new regulations to prevent the import of illegal and unregulated fish into the EU market.

Meanwhile, Junior Agriculture Minister Tony Killeen has approved grant aid of more than €41m for the decommissioning of a further 46 Irish fishing vessels.

Approved applicants will have until July 18th to accept the offer, which is the latest stage in the Government’s Whitefish Decommissioning Scheme.

Fishermen lodged 69 applications before the April deadline for the first phase of the scheme — with 46 of the vessels deemed to have met the criteria.

It had been anticipated as many as 75 of the older and larger whitefish vessels could be removed from the waters under the plan to make the struggling fishing sector more viable.

Under the scheme, some 46 boats over 18 metres in length and with a combined capacity of 7,590 gross tonnes — an average size of 165 gross tonnes a vessel — will be exited from the whitefish fleet over the coming weeks.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, these vessels represent 68% of the overall removal target of 11,140 gross tonnes set for the schemes. These are in addition to the 27 whitefish boats which were “decommissioned” in 2005-2006.

The Department has given approved applicants until July 18th to accept the offer. If they do so they must surrender their licences by September 12th 2008.

The 2008 scheme, administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, was based on a recommendation from the Seafood Industry Strategy Review Group.


Shell Oil receives approval to drill in Sruwaddaccon Bay, Co. Mayo

March 28, 2008

Shel Ireland has announced that it has received State approval to drill boreholes in Sruwaddaccon Bay, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in North Mayo, as part of work on the Corrib gas project.

The company has also confirmed it is “reviewing” grant aid it has earmarked for a north Mayo community affected by the 2003 Dooncarton landslide, due to local dissent over the application. Read the rest of this entry »

New fishing body seeks “compliance culture”

March 27, 2008

Irish fishermen face increasingly strict enforcement of fish catch regulations with the introduction of the new Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

The SFPA was officially launched yesterday afternoon by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan. The authority’s chairman, Peter Whelan, said it would enforce a ‘culture of compliance’ every hour of every day to end illegal fishing. Read the rest of this entry »

Professor George Eogan states that Bremore port site is of vast historic importance

March 25, 2008

The site earmarked for the proposed new port at Bremore, near Balbriggan in north County Dublin is of huge archaeological and historic importance and may be where St Patrick first landed in Ireland, according to one of the country’s most eminent archaeologists.

Professor George Eogan has expressed concern about plans by the Drogheda Port company to build a new deepwater port, at an estimated cost of €300 million, at Bremore on the north Dublin coast.

Professor Eogan, emeritus Professor of Celtic Archaeology at University College Dublin, is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost archaeologists, and was awarded the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Humanities for his outstanding contribution to Irish Archaeology. Professor Eogan led the 40-year programme of archaeological work on Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth and is considered to be a world authority in this area. As a result, the Boyne Valley was established as a national park and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Read the rest of this entry »

Planned Closure of Valentia / Malin Radio Marine Radio Stations

February 21, 2008

Valentia Island is located in County Kerry on the south west coast, at the point where the first trans-Atlantic cable was brought ashore from Newfoundland, a considerable maritime and technological achievement in the 1860s. It ushered in the era of communications across the oceans. Valentia island is Ireland’s principal maritime coastal radio station, which is the Irish Coastguard’s channel of marine communications. In 2007 to date more than 600 people can thank Valentia Coastguard for the fact that they are alive and in 2004 it was involved in some 3,000 rescue call-outs. However, both stations have a wider significance. Read the rest of this entry »