Friday 16 November 2018

Tight security as Shell pipe-laying ship nears land

A Shell to Sea protester at Glengad, Co Mayo, where gardai created a perimeter around the beach yesterday
A Shell to Sea protester at Glengad, Co Mayo, where gardai created a perimeter around the beach yesterday

Tom Shiel

TENSION was high last night near the site of a controversial planned gas pipeline, as a mammoth pipe-laying ship prepared to return.

The imminent re-arrival of the Solitaire off Broadhaven Bay in Co Mayo yesterday was accompanied by increased drama.

Amid huge security, the Solitaire, which is protected by a number of Irish Navy vessels, is today expected to begin laying the offshore pipeline that will connect the landfall installation at Glengad with the gas field 83km away.

The vessel was anchored just 10 miles off Erris Head yesterday.

It was not visible from Glengad, where the security operation has been intensified.

Shortly after dawn yesterday, two leading activists, father and son Patrick and Jonathan O'Donnell, were arrested in separate incidents in Broadhaven Bay.

Mr O'Donnell Snr, whose lobster and crab boat the 'Iona Isle' sank in controversial circumstances earlier this month, claimed to have been injured by arresting gardai.

He was taken by Ballyglass lifeboat to shore and from there to Mayo General Hospital but was released later.

The Shell to Sea group, which condemned the arrests, said the men "have a legal right to fish the area".

Gardai have sealed off all approaches to Glengad beach and it is expected to remain that way until early next week when the foreshore stages of laying the gas pipe will be completed.

About 40 gardai are stationed below the Rossport Solidarity Camp to prevent Shell to Sea activists from gaining access to either the beach or the sea.

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