Jul 4, 2009

Is Shell using terrorist tactics in Ireland?

Anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” or studied the effects of transnational corporations knows that many pollute, murder trade unionists and violate human rights on a regular basis. Last week, it was revealed the Royal Dutch Shell oil company is to pay $15.5 million to settle a lawsuit regarding human rights violations in Nigeria. Shell admitted no liability for the hanging of six environmental activists in 1995 but are settling nonetheless.

In a move announced yesterday, the company acknowledged no wrongdoing in the 1995 hangings of six people opposed to oil exploration in the west African country, including playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Shell said it agreed to settle the action in the hope of aiding the “process of reconciliation” and also recognised that the victims’ families had suffered. (h/t mediabite via Twitter)

Numerous claims regarding human rights violations have been made against companies like Shell. Mostly such companies ignore the allegations but occasionally outside contractors settle the matter discretely, and sometimes the government of the target country is so cozy with the company that laws are changed.

For the past number of years, Shell, Statoil and other companies have been involved in the Corrib Gas Controversy. Despite the rhetoric for their mission statements,

Shell E&P Ireland Limited (SEPIL) is committed to the principles of sustainable development. The Corrib development will bring long-term economic benefits to the local community in Mayo and to the rest of Ireland.

and the collusion at the highest level of Irish government, the people in Mayo have been fighting to keep their health and homes.

In a shocking move, private land rights have been modified by the Government to please their corporate masters.

... the [ Compulsory Acquisition Orders] made by the minister [for the Marine and Natural Resources Frank Fahey] permitted a private company to occupy land and construct a pipeline even if the owners of the land objected. Within weeks, landowners along the route of the proposed pipeline were informed that they would be served with CAOs unless they accepted compensation and allowed EEI to lay the pipeline. (Source)

People protested. They were ignored. James Philbin, Philip McGrath, Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff and Micheál Ó Seighin, spent 94 days in Cloverhill Prison for contempt of court. The imprisonment of these men caused a national boycott of Shell and Statoil.

Until recently, the responsibility for the dispossession and jailing of Irish citizens has been the democratically elected government of Ireland. Now that has changed. Masked and armed men, who may or may not have been hired by Shell boarded and sunk a vessel belonging to one of the anti-gas protestors.

The Mayo anti-gas pipe protester who claimed his trawler was sunk by "mercenaries" working for Shell in the early hours of Thursday was picked up by another boat owned and worked by him and his son, it has emerged.

At around the same time as Pat O'Donnell's ageing trawler Iona Isle was sunk in deep water off Erris Head, a mile out from the landfall for the Corrib Gas pipeline, 20 eco warriors tried to invade the construction site from sea in kayaks.

The Shell to Sea group said on Friday that Mr O'Donnell's boat was boarded by four "masked men" who, they say, "assaulted and held down" Mr O'Donnell and then sunk the boat.

The insurance will not pay out because the sinking was not accidental.

The vessel’s owner, Pat O’Donnell, has been told insurers will not cover the loss as it is defined as an “act of terrorism”. The 12-metre Iona Isle was insured for €60,000.

No one can say for certain who these masked men were. O’Donnell accused Shell and Shell denied involvement. However, O’Donnell had requested protection from the Minister of Defence and the President of Ireland on previous occasions. On 30 April of this year, he spoke of the fear of retaliation to Government Ministers. He spoke about Shell contractors filming his boat and the attacks on Rossport Five member Willie Corduff.


Using fear and intimidation is a terrorist tactic. Holding people at gunpoint is a terrorist tactic. While further investigation needs to be carried out, it is clear that there are people operating outside the law to minimise protests to the pipeline. Whether Shell is responsible for these acts, is for a court to decide. However, these are tactics that Shell has used in other parts of the world.

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