A Polish "anarchist" who served 10 years' imprisonment for a knife killing and is linked to various "anti-capitalist" movements in Europe is emerging as one of the key organisers in the protest against the Corrib gas pipeline.
Gardai are preparing for trouble as work begins on shore exploration work in preparation for the coming ashore of the pipeline. Despite massive delays caused by protesters, and repeated inquiries by An Bord Pleanala, it is hoped that the project is now in its final stages. Gas from Corrib will supply up to 60 per cent of Ireland's gas needs. We now import 90 per cent of our gas from the UK, and this is likely to increase as the Kinsale Head field dries up.
The Polish anarchist is believed to be a prominent figure in the European anarchist movement, which is targeting major international companies, and particularly those involved in energy supply. He was released from jail in Poland in 2007 and appears to have been travelling to and from Ireland since.
He has visited the protest camp in Rossport, Co Mayo, on at least two occasions in February and March, and is believed to have been there a number of times since.
He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in Poland in 1997 after he was convicted of stabbing a youth to death during an incident which his supporters say was an attack on an anarchist commune by neo-Nazis. His supporters say the killing was an act of self-defence and that he was unfairly convicted. Under Polish penal law he was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
The arrival of anarchists to fight the building of the pipeline and refinery in Mayo is yet another strange development in what appears to be a series of throwbacks to the Cold War era. The anarchists have so far devoted much of their energies to organising anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist protests to coincide with G20 meetings in European capitals and are seen as key troublemakers.
The anarchists are suspected of using encrypted messaging on the internet to organise trouble at the protests. The group the Pole is believed to be a prominent member of terms itself the Anarchist Black Cross. This name first emerged in Russia during the revolutionary period at the start of the 20th century. The anarchists became a relatively powerful movement until they were crushed by the Bolsheviks.
Supporters of the Shell project in Mayo are angry at its targeting by international Left protesters but are angrier at the repeated delays forced by An Bord Pleanala inquiries. After more than a decade of delays mainly due to environmental inquiries, the project faces still further delays with the prospect of yet another public oral hearing this autumn.