Movies: The Pipe * * * *
(15a, General release)
Published 03/12/2010 | 05:00
I have a lot of admiration for the style and clarity of this new Irish film from Risteard O'Domhnaill, but I'm not entirely sure it can be accurately described as a documentary. So completely does the filmmaker immerse himself and us in the plight of protesting residents of Rossport, County Mayo, that in the end The Pipe feels more like a piece of well-intentioned agitprop.
That would suggest that Mr O'Domhnaill's film lacks balance, but in fairness to the man, there's nothing very attractive to be said about the Shell position in all of this.
As most of you will know, the residents were protesting over Shell's plan to lay a high-pressure gas pipeline from a large offshore field that would pass close to the houses of many locals and seriously disrupt the livelihoods of both farmers and fishermen.
Depressingly, the Government seemed more bothered about protecting the interests of the petrochemical giant than the wellbeing of its own people, and, in the film's most disturbing moments, gardai are dispatched to quell perfectly legitimate local protests on land and sea.
O'Domhnaill's film also goes behind the scenes of the protests, with residents split over tactics and by insidious financial offers from their opponents.
One activist, Maura Harrington, is so hardline that she decides to go on hunter strike. In the end, the Rossport locals did succeed in blocking the original route of Shell's pipe: the company is currently exploring other potential routes.
Most depressing of all, however, is the fact that Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern surrendered our stake in any gas that eventually does come ashore.