Independent Media Centre Ireland

Cork Shell to Sea visit Irish Navy HQ

category cork | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Friday September 12, 2008 21:18author by John - Cork Shell to Sea

Today a small group of activists went down to Haulbowline island, Headquarters of the Irish Navy with an open letter for Commodore Frank Lynch, Chief of Naval Staff. The purpose behind this visit was to raise awareness within the Navy as to the issues around their presence in Broadhaven bay and to ask them to join in solidarity with the people of Erris rather than Shell. Text of letter follows later in this report.

Handing letter to Navy personnel
Handing letter to Navy personnel

An initial attempt at approaching by land from Ringaskiddy was politely rebuffed by private security guards so the group went round the back to Cobh to a pier belonging to the Department of Defense from which Navy personnel are ferried back and forth to the main land.

The group waited for the ferry to arrive and tried handing out copies of the letter to Navy personnel. Responses were largely non committal, in keeping with stated Navy policy of not communicating with Shell to Sea. Under these circumstances the fact that one or two actually took the letter seemed like a step forward. It was also clear that our banner "Shell's Navy" rubbed a few seamen up the wrong way. Sorry lads but there's more at stake here than your feelings.
One man who did engage in conversation made the comment that the Navy is only taking orders. This is an excuse that this reporter has heard many many times in various forms in his career as an activist. He wonders what would the world be like if we all moved beyond that and started taking responsibility for our actions rather than deferring it to higher powers be they officers, politicians, laws or deities.
The activists also hoisted a shell flag on the pole in the nearby promenade to give the good folk of Cobh something to think about, much to the annoyance of one man, who said he worked in the oil business and told us that Shell don't operate in Ireland anymore. News to us, perhaps all that carry on in Mayo is an illusion brought on by something in the food chain.


Cork Shell To Sea
12 September 2008

F.A.O. Commodore Frank Lynch, Flag Officer, Chief of Naval Staff, Haulbowline Island, Co. Cork

Cc: All naval personnel and the general public

Dear Sir,

We are contacting you on behalf of the people of Erris and their comrades from around the world currently resisting the activities of Royal Dutch Shell with specific and urgent reference to the hunger striker Maura Harrington.
We want the organization that you command to cease lending its support to this unjust and unsustainable project forthwith and join with the people of Ireland in regaining control and ownership of our natural resources.

We understand that this may be difficult for you to do, given the manner in which you perceive your duties and who you take your orders from, so we are raising a few points here to help push you in the right direction.

1. The gas that Shell wishes to extract and process largely at Irish expense is destined for overseas markets and as things stand Ireland will receive little benefit from it. There is substantial evidence of British involvement in this situation, we refer to reports of a UK nuclear submarine off the coast of Mayo andÖ. While being a multinational with interest all over the globe Shell has itís international headquarters in London and has substantial connections to the UK establishment.

2. Other national institutions that have been used to force this project through, most notably An Garda Siochana have done themselves untold damage in the eyes of the people and indeed in this time of international communications, the world, to the point that their legitimacy as a force for law and order can be severely questioned.

3. In recent times disturbing amounts of corruption have been revealed among the political class from whom you take your orders. It is clear to us that they have neither the interests of Ireland, nor the people, nor its institutions at heart. Should you require illustration as to how this affects the navy specifically we refer to the highly toxic waste dump that you have been stationed next to for several years.

4. These events are taking place against a backdrop of great social and environmental uncertainty, we refer specifically the current state of our health, education and other services as well as climate change and fossil fuel depletion . This gas if used wisely could remedy some of these problems and help us ride out the others The activities of Shell in other countries clearly indicates that they do not have our interests at heart and it is impossible to see how assisting them can be justified.

We understand that to take these points seriously will necessitate deep and far reaching changes both within the navy and society at large. We would like to see the initiation of a process where this gas is brought under the collective ownership and control of the Irish people and any decisions as to its use are made in the interests of future life on this planet. This understanding has been shaped by events in Erris and Nigeria. To make these changes is to kiss goodbye to certainty. Not to make them is to invite disaster.

We repeat our request: If the Irish Navy must remain in Broadhaven Bay let it do so in solidarity with the people of Erris not in support of Shell.

Yours etc


Shell flag, turn yr computer on it's side to see it and not very clear, sorry
Shell flag, turn yr computer on it's side to see it and not very clear, sorry

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