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Derry Solidarity Shell To Sea Protest
Thursday September 11, 2008 22:12 by MAOR Derry maorderry at gmail dot com 086 1722953
This afternoon in Derry City over thirty people held a solidarity protest with Hunger Striker Maura Harrington and the Shell To Sea Campaign at Guildhall Square.
During the protest, several hundred leaflets were distributed urging people to show their support and solidarity. As the protest got under way, activists telephoned Maura to wish her solidarity and strength in her actions.
In a statement following todays action, organisers of the event, MAOR Derry commented:
Hunger Strike in Mayo sparks wave of solidarity throughout Derry and Donegal
News of the radical step taken by a Shell to Sea campaigner spread throughout Donegal and Derry yesterday, as Maura Harrington commenced a hunger strike, pledging that her action would end only with the Solitare leaving Irish territorial waters or with her death.
The arrival of the world’s largest pipelaying vessel, the Solitare, in Killybegs a number of weeks ago, led to a small number of protest actions at sea. On two occasions, campaigners took to the water to paddle out to the Solitare to deliver letters calling on the Master of the Ship to leave Irish waters. Today, the Solitare has returned to Killybegs for repairs while Maura Harrington continues her hunger strike in Mayo.
A groundswell of support for Maura has seen a rally being organised in Derry this evening where people from Donegal and Derry will gather to show their support and call on the Solitare to leave Irish waters. Actions will commence this evening with a rally at Guildhall square. Over the coming days, letter writing campaigns, petitions and media campaigns will continue; while supporters from Donegal and Derry will also make their way to Mayo. Campaigners are also calling on politicians in Donegal to show their support and demand that Government reopen negotiations with Shell to Sea immediately. Speaking earlier today, Paula Leonard from MAOR stated :
‘Since yesterday, we have been contacting all of our local and national political representatives requesting that they call on our Government to intervene in this matter. County Councillors in Donegal have previously shown their understanding of the issues involved when they passed a motion in May calling on central government to suspend exploration off the Donegal Coastline and renegotiate the terms of the licenses. They need to stand up now and demand an end to the situation in Mayo’.
MAOR representatives were anxious to highlight the link between what is happening in Mayo and the situation in Donegal :
‘The people of Donegal can not stand idly by while Maura Harrington continues her hunger strike. The Solitare was moored here. The Solitare is back in Killybegs this morning. The same multi-national companies which are involved in Mayo are involved in exploring off Donegal at this minute. These are the companies that forced compulsory purchase orders on farmers who did not want to sell their land. These are the same companies whose actions led to the jailing of five men for almost 100 days. These are the same companies who are forcing an experimental gas project through an area where the community have campaigned for six years to have it stopped because of the health and safety risks. These are the companies that are now involved off Donegal and we can not think for one minute that things will be any different in Donegal’.
This evening’s rally is scheduled to coincide with other actions in Mayo, Dublin and Belfast. In Dublin this evening, there will be a protest at Shell HQ at 5.30, and later there will be a vigil to show support for Maura Harrington outside the GPO. Many supporters in Donegal and Derry will be travelling to Mayo over the coming days. Actions will continue while Maura continues her hunger strike and while the Solitare remains in Irish territorial waters.