Four injured in protest over pipeline completion

 

MAYO COUNTY Council is drawing up a “futures plan” to try to address the “turmoil” which has engulfed northwest Mayo over the Corrib gas project.

County manager Peter Hynes said an €8.5 million “community gain investment fund” financed by Shell as part of An Bord Pleanála’s conditions for the onshore pipeline route will be administered by the local authority.

Mr Hynes was speaking during the first week of full construction work by Shell and contractors on the final section of the Corrib gas pipeline, which was marked by demonstrations, arrests and injuries to four protesters yesterday.

Gardaí made one arrest during a Shell to Sea “day of action” at Aughoose, attended by up to 80 protesters, 75 private security staff employed by Shell and two dozen uniformed gardaí at the work site.

One man required medical treatment and Shell to Sea said three other protesters were hurt. Two required hospitalisation, with a woman said to have concussion.

Supt Pat Diskin of Belmullet Garda station said an attempt had been made to pull down fencing, but it was otherwise a “peaceful protest”. He denied claims by Shell to Sea that the private security company, I-RMS,was closing roads over the past week.

Three human rights observers deployed by Amnesty International and Frontline, and one separate Table human rights observer, witnessed yesterday’s event, during which three protesters verbally abused gardaí.

The protest began at about 7am, when Shell contractors were due to move equipment to the work site for the tunnel at Aughoose. Up to seven people held a vigil at the terminal gates.

Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea said protests would continue “for as long as it takes”.

The An Bord Pleanála permission comes with 58 conditions, and Mayo County Council is “devoting considerable resources to implementation”, Mr Hynes said.

Shell has not yet paid the first of five annual instalments for the €8.5 million “community gain” investment fund, but there was agreement on a payment schedule and money would be disbursed from 2012, he said.