Shell to Sea campaigners protest in London


British supporters of the Shell to Sea campaign are protesting today outside the London offices of Allseas, the company that owns the pipe-laying ship the Solitaire.

They are demanding that the Solitaireleaves Irish waters so that local teacher Maura Harrington (54), who has been on hunger strike for seven days, can bring her protest to an end.

Ms Harrington has said she will continue her hunger strike until the boat, brought in by Shell to lay the Corrib offshore gas pipeline, departs Irish waters.

Shell said last week that pipelaying has been suspended due to “technical issues” with the Solitaire.

The 300-metre boat, the largest pipe-laying vessel in the world, has returned to Killybegs, Co Donegal, where a full assessment of the damage is under way.

The Irish Timesunderstands a section of the Solitaire’spipe-laying apparatus, known as “the stinger”, became detached. The 100m section was retrieved from the water but will have to be re-attached before the vessel can begin the pipe-laying exercise. It is likely the repair work will need to be carried out in Rotterdam, which may take a few months.

Sources said “the stinger” was not damaged by protests in the waters around the ship. It is believed it broke off due to adverse weather conditions, including high winds and heavy swell.