Irish News

Thursday 31 July 2014

Meet the Euro hopeful who took on a warship

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

Published 10/03/2014|02:30

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Grace O'Sullivan pictured with a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise
Grace O'Sullivan pictured with a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise
Grace O'Sullivan climbing the anchor chain of a Russian warship
Grace O'Sullivan climbing the anchor chain of a Russian warship
European Elections candidate for Ireland South, Grace O'Sullivan

SHE was a crew member on a celebrated Greenpeace ship when it was infamously sunk by the French.

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And she protested against nuclear weapons by climbing up the anchor chain of a Russian warship – barefoot (see picture right).

Now, just eight weeks after joining the Green Party, Grace O'Sullivan is running in the European elections. Ms O'Sullivan spent a decade travelling the globe as an activist with Greenpeace, including a stint on the 'Rainbow Warrior'.

The ship was sunk by the French secret service while in harbour in New Zealand.

"I was a crew member on board that ship. We had been sailing for a few months prior to arriving to Auckland, and then our plan was to sail on to Muroroa where the French were testing underground nuclear bombs," Ms O'Sullivan told the Irish Independent.

"And the French decided to try and stop us in our tracks and they bombed the ship, killing one of our crew members. Luckily, that night I was off the ship. Half of us had gone ashore so we weren't on board.

"And I often wonder would there have been more fatalities if all of the crew had been on board?" she added.

Despite the shock, Ms O'Sullivan continued her work and in 1986 she attempted to board a Soviet nuclear warship in the Mediterranean, by climbing up the anchor chain – barefoot.

"I found it easier to get a grip on the slippery chain (when barefoot)," she said.

"In this particular case, the ship had nuclear warheads on board, so that's what we were campaigning against," she added.

After another decade working in the Greenpeace headquarters in Amsterdam, the mother of three moved back to her native in Tramore in Co Waterford. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan approached her two months ago to join the party and become its candidate in the Ireland South constituency.

Ms O'Sullivan said she was motivated by the need for action on the environment following the recent storms and flooding in Ireland, Britain and the continent.

Meanwhile, Mr Ryan says he will see out his five-year term if he is elected to the European Parliament.

The former cabinet minister is understood to be polling well and is in contention to take a seat in Dublin.

Speaking at his party's convention, Mr Ryan said he will not run in the next general election if he is an MEP.

"No ifs, no buts, no maybes," he added.

The Green Party leader also called for the introduction of a register of lobbyists, citing the example of Mr Flannery lobbying for Rehab, while also working with the Fine Gael leadership.

"The way Frank Flannery walks the corridors of power, paid by a charity to lunch with his ministerial friends, scorning an Oireachtas committee, where he has real questions to answer about Complete Eco Solutions. Complete ego solutions would have been a better name."

And he repeatedly attacked the Labour Party asking why were the junior coalition partners "so willing to swallow Fine Gael's big business agenda". The former Communications Minister, Mr Ryan was also critical of the collapse of the deal with Britain to trade renewable energy.

The move has resulted in the plan to build windfarms in the midlands being shelved.

Irish Independent

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