harry potter | 05.06.2009 11:14
A group of twelve Shell to Sea protesters in eight inflatable kayaks, two hard kayaks, and two rubber dingys set out on the water at 6pm for the second time in one day on Tuesday 2nd June. Three of the kayaks managed to evade the security boats and get close enough to board one of the dredgers. One protester began to climb the ladder from her boat while another kayaker blocked a security boat from grabbing her. The other protester used the tires on the side of the dredger to board the deck. Once on the boat, both protesters were climbing onto the crane within seconds. They slid down into the neck of the crane making it impossible for the crew to remove them.
Loud cheers were heard from ashore where people were gathered at the Rossport Solidarity Camp, and the mood on the water was extremely positive. ‘Shell to hell’ chants were abounding, and there were even some playful exchanges between Shell to Sea kayakers and a couple of motorboats. There were varying attitudes on different boats, but not all of the gardai or safety boats were unfriendly. Both inflatable kayaks which had been left in the water where the two protesters had boarded the dredger were quickly recovered. One was towed out of the ‘exclusion zone’ by a Shell to Sea protester, and one was brought on board the gardai boat and placed back in the water outside of the exclusion zone. The rest of the Shell to Sea kayakers remained on the water to ensure the protesters were not going to be dangerously removed, then began taking shifts to stay close to them and provide support.
In a surprisingly honest conversation between the kayak protesters and a worker on one of the boats, the worker stated that he ‘admired the persistence’ of the local community and supporters who are resisting the pipeline. He also said he thought the pipeline plan was ‘relatively safe’ and asserted that sometimes risks have to be taken. Unfortunately with a kill zone of up to 200 meters and the uncertainty of never having built such a high pressure pipeline through a residential area, the risk is high. This is why resistance to the pipeline is so strong; as one of the two protesters who occupied the dredger later stated, “Today we took this action in solidarity with the local community and to try to protect this beautiful area from being ravaged by Shell.”
The rotating shifts of support continued on through the night, with small groups of kayakers keeping an eye on their friends long after the gardai had left around 12am. Once it was dark and the gardai had left, the mood at sea changed. The Shell security and the safety boat for the dredger were the only ones left. The Shell security RIBs became increasingly aggressive towards the kayakers. They made multiple attempts to capsize them, and used intimidation techniques such as turning their lights off until they were up close then suddenly shining floodlights, disorienting and frightening them. One of the kayak crew reported feeling seriously concerned that the situation would escalate. A security guard even stated his intention was to sink the boats, a plausible threat given the recent vicious attack by IRMS on Willie Corduff. It was reported that the ‘safety boat’ also seemed concerned for the safety of the kayakers, and may have been their only protection in the situation.
By 4am, the two protesters on the dredger were feeling very cold and tired, and felt as if they had achieved a significant victory. They voluntarily climbed down from the crane, and were illegally detained by IRMS security and brought to Ballyglass pier where they were arrested and charged with loitering in a public place.
Despite the severe difficulties encountered throughout the night the mood across the camp from the kayaking teams and all the support crews was jubilant. Having breached Shell’s security and made such a significant stop to dredging work people at the solidarity camp remain in a defiant mood: watch this space for more resistance to the devastation at sea and on the land.