Shell boring machine finally reaches tunnelling site at Aughoose


More than two months after it was delayed by a jack-knifing incident at an isolated Co Mayo crossroads, Shell’s giant tunnel-boring machine reached its final destination in a midnight operation supported by more than 60 gardaí at the weekend.

Christened Fionnuala by Shell, the 500-tonne machine is due to start digging the 4.9km sub-sea tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay in the coming weeks, heralding the final phase of the controversial Corrib gas project.

The operation to move the machine from the main refinery site at Bellanaboy, its temporary location since the jack-knifing incident, to the tunnelling site at Aughoose was impeded by a protest by members of Rossport Solidarity Camp.

A spokesman confirmed yesterday that two camp members locked themselves into a 400kg reinforced concrete barrel from 7.30pm until a Garda team cut them out in the early hours of Friday. They were brought to Belmullet Garda station, where they were charged with public order offences, before being released at around 4am.

Originally the lorry carrying parts of the tunnel-boring machine jack-knifed while attempting to reverse around a crossroads. It was part of a large convoy flanked by Garda vans and outriders that left Dublin Port on Sunday night, July 30th, transporting sections of the machine to the oil company’s operations in Co Mayo.