Campaigners opposing the Corrib gas field project failed to dampen the spirits of more than 100 Norwegians celebrating Independence Day in Dublin today.
Around 25 activists protested peacefully behind the parade from College Green to St Stephens Green, carrying a 13ft section of pipeline, placards and handing out leaflets.
The Shell to Sea group said it wanted to highlight the fact that the Norwegian government is a majority shareholder in Statoil, which itself has a 36.5% stake in the Corrib gas field project.
“The Norwegian government, through their ownership in Statoil, will part own Corrib gas field and take a lot of revenue from it,” said campaigner Tadhg McGrath.
“They set up Statoil as a state oil company to exploit their own natural resources and now our Government has given them permission to exploit us.
“They will be making money selling our gas back to us at market rates.”
Communications, Marine and Natural Resources minister Noel Dempsey has given permission to the Shell-led consortium to go ahead with the construction of the Corrib gas project, after the completion of several safety reviews.
Giving his support to the protest, Martin Ferris, Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North, added: “I think the sale of Irish resources to benefit Statoil and Norway with no benefit for Irish people is an absolute disgrace.”
Norwegian students were among those who marched proudly in the rain along Grafton Street behind the Garda Band, who performed the country’s national anthem.
“We are not happy about the protestors being here, but they didn’t interfere with our celebrations,” said Marianne Rorholt (aged 20), who is studying medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons. “I don’t think many people realised they were there.”
“Independence Day is very important to us,” she added. “It is the day when we liberated from Sweden and got our own constitution.”