Rossport Five hit out at garda tactics as book launched

THE five men imprisoned over the Shell gas project yesterday hit out at Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy over riot gardaí being deployed to Mayo.

Launching their book, Our Story — The Rossport Five, the men declared that their fight against the onshore processing of gas from the Corrib field would continue.

Flanked by their wives and families in Dublin yesterday, Willie Corduff, Micheál Ó Seighin, Brendan Philbin and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath vowed to struggle on.

However, concern was voiced that Commissioner Conroy had moved specialised gardaí into the Erris peninsula to protect workers on the Shell terminal late last year.

“Some of the more violent members of the police have been removed at the moment. They may bring them back again in the spring,” said Michael Ó Seighin, adding that violent clashes with protesters may reoccur. “The commissioner is from the area, and that to me is one of great shock when we found out that Noel Conroy was prepared to use the rapid response and the riot squad against us as a first option, not as a final option.”

Gardaí officially deny riot squad members were shipped into Mayo during clashes before Christmas. However, Mr Ó Seighin insisted this was not the truth.

“They weren’t at the gate [of the terminal] with their gear on, they had it in the van.”

The 206-page book described the men and their families’ experience with gas exploration in Mayo and their 94 days spent behind bars for objecting over a 9km on-shore pipeline.

“They were men who had brought the €900 million Shell project in Mayo to a complete halt,” says the introduction by Shell to Sea spokesman Dr Mark Garavan.

The book is on its second print run. It warns that, with continued disagreement, “North Mayo has the potential to become Ireland’s Chiapas”.

At the launch yesterday the men said they hoped it would “stir” the conscience of communities who read it. Already it has sold out in Castlebar, Co Mayo, according to Dr Garavan.

All five men plan to make the Shell controversy a political issue as the General Election approaches.

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