Goldman prize winner beaten for protesting against Shell pipeline
Shocking news from the protests against the Shell pipeline in County Mayo, Ireland. Press release follows:
For immediate release
April 23rd, 2009
GOLDMAN PRIZE WINNER, WILLIE CORDUFF HOSPITALISED AFTER SEVERE BEATING BY MASKED MEN AT SHELL PIPELINE SITE IN COUNTY MAYO, IRELAND
-- Goldman Environmental Prize winner was trying to block work on pipeline --
-- Shell still has no planning permission for this section of pipeline --
Mayo farmer and anti-Shell protester Willie Corduff is recovering in hospital after being badly beaten by at least six men in balaclavas and dark clothing at the site where Shell is attempting to lay an onshore, high-pressure pipeline
Corduff, one of the Rossport Five and winner of the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize, was dragged from under a truck at around 3.45am on Thursday morning by at least six men who then beat him viciously about the head and knees.
"I thought they were trying to kill me," Corduff said. "They beat me until I stopped moving. I heard one of them say, 'Stop now lads, he's nearly finished.' "
It is unclear whether these men were employees of I-RMS, the company providing security for Shell's operations in north Mayo. Security personnel and gardai were nearby at the time of the attack.
Corduff, a 55-year-old grandfather, was taken by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar, where he is being treated for his injuries. He has undergone several x-rays. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
Corduff and two other local men had climbed under the truck at midday on Wednesday in an attempt to halt work at the site at Glengad. The other two men were removed but Corduff vowed to stay under the truck until he had evidence that Shell had authorisation for their work. He said gardai threw stones at him to in an attempt to remove him.
Locals kept a vigil near the truck, but by 3.45am, several of them had left to get food, leaving only Corduff's brother-in-law, Pete Lavelle. At least six men in dark clothing and balaclavas dragged Corduff out and beat him violently. Lavelle witnessed the incident and when he tried to come to Corduff's assistance, he was also beaten by the men. He reported being bitten on the ear. One of the men was reportedly using a leather-covered baton to beat Mr Corduff.
I-RMS has been criticised by campaigners because its staff have not displayed any identification, in contravention of the law governing security personnel.
Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said: "This is not just an attempt to intimidate local people from protesting against Shell's experimental inland refinery and pipeline, it's also an attempt to provoke a violent reaction. Gardai and Shell security have been trying to provoke violence for several years now, but local people and their supporters have shown incredible restraint. All the violence, intimidation and abuse has been directed at protestors by gardai and I-RMS [security]."
Mr Conway added, It has become common practice to falsely accuse us of violence, in order to cover up the brutality that is inflicted upon us. This work in Glengad is totally illegal but all of our attempts to raise the illegality of these works have fallen on deaf Government ears. Repeated request to see the permissions for these works have been ignored.
On Wednesday, Shell had attempted to resume work on the controversial pipeline. Work had stopped in 2008. The company still does not have planning permission for the section of pipeline which would bring the gas to the proposed inland refinery at Bellanaboy.
Willie Corduff (55), a father of six and a grandfather, was jailed for 94 days in 2005 for refusing Shell access to his land to lay the high-pressure pipeline. The legal stance of Corduff and the Rossport Five was subsequently vindicated in a High Court ruling by Justice Mary Laffoy in April 2007. She ruled that Shell could not proceed with the original pipeline without the consent of the landowners. Shell is still seeking planning permission to lay the pipeline along this route, which crosses the land of Willie Corduff, other members of the Rossport Five and other landowners who object to it.
Two years ago today, on April 23rd, 2007, Corduff was in San Francisco to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's most valuable environmental prize. In that week, he met with members of the US Senate and Congress, including Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. He also had meetings with representatives from Amnesty International, the National Geographic Society, the World Wildlife Fund and other powerful lobby groups.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said in 2007 it was "with wonder and awe at the tremendous accomplishments and incredible bravery that I salute the Goldman Prize winners. Their conviction and courage are an inspiration. In the face of overwhelming odds, sometimes even putting their own lives at risk, they stand up for their communities, for justice, and for the environment.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Goldman Environmental Prize and Willie Corduff:
Recent article in US magazine, The Nation:
Environmental Showdown on the Irish Coast
FOR VERIFICATION, COMMENT OR MORE INFO, CONTACT:
*Terrence Conway 00353860866264
* Caoimhe Kerins 0035385 8328130