Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib

Airing Erris: The Media and Shell Corrib will take place on Saturday 18th January in the Seanscoil, Ceathrú Thaidhg, in Erris, County Mayo, 12 noon til 6pm. This will be the first of a series of two seminars on the media treatment of the Shell Corrib issue.

Speakers will include Harry Browne, journalist and lecturer, Lelia Doolan, documentary-maker and former CEO of the Irish Film Board, Betty Purcell, former Editor of Features and Current Affairs RTE, and Liamy Mac Nally, Mayo-based freelance journalist.

There will also be a series of testimonies from people detailing infringements of freedom of expression and denial of information in relation to the Shell Corrib gas project.

Further Calls for Investigation into Allegations of Alcohol Bribes to Gardaí

McGrath's Pier, Pollathomais, 2007Pobal Chill Chomain Press Release 

As a community group committed to solving the continued difficulties with the ongoing Shell/Statoil Corrib Gas controversy, we are extremely concerned with the most recent developments regarding allegations of bribery and deception involving senior members of An Garda Siochana and agents acting on behalf of the Corrib developers; i.e. the long-term bribery of Garda members with gifts of alcohol, and misleading a Garda Ombudsman investigation.

These allegations strike at the heart of our community, but strike also at the basic notion of democracy and transparency in this country, and must be rooted out at their foundation if we are to move on from conflict and mistrust.

Various statements have been issued in recent days by Shell E&P Ireland and our police force, and we note with dismay that neither group has yet denied the accusations, but merely pushed them away with talk of repeated internal investigations with no possibility of independence. Continue reading “Further Calls for Investigation into Allegations of Alcohol Bribes to Gardaí”

Abuses of Garda Power in Erris of ‘Donegal proportions’

Clashes between protesters and Gardaí at McGrath’s pier in Pollathomais, Co. Mayo in 2007. Photo from Indymedia.

Afri has supported calls for an independent international enquiry into allegations that large quantities of alcohol were supplied by Shell to Gardaí in Belmullet, who are responsible for policing the Corrib Gas Project. The statement issued by the Gardai in response to these allegations was paltry and insulting, said Joe Murray of Afri.

In the context of the familiar images of Gardaí using heavy handed and violent policing tactics against peaceful protesters in Erris, the need for such an independent investigation is all the more urgent. Is it possible that such large amounts of alcohol, freely available in Belmullet Garda Station, has contributed to this violent behaviour, either as an incentive or reward? Afri called on Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, whose record on this conflict has been appalling to date, to overcome his bias against the protesters, and to initiate an independent enquiry. Otherwise, it will appear that he believes this to be an acceptable model of how the law works in Ireland. Afri has previously called for such an enquiry believing that there are abuses of Garda power in Erris of ‘Donegal proportions’, as revealed in the Morris Tribunal, and that urgent, immediate and independent investigation is required.

To read article in The Guardian which investigates claims of corporate “sweetners” from Shell, including a delivery of €35,000 of alcohol to the Gardaí in Belmullet during the height of clashes between protesters and the Gardaí here.

Articles in The Irish Times in relation to the story: “Garda says no evidence of Corrib alcohol being distributed”: here; “Garda examining claims alcohol was delivered to Mayo station”: here; and “Shell welcomes Garda examination of alcohol claims”: here

Donal O’Kelly’s “Fionnuala” wins Fringe First Award

Donal O'Kelly Fringe 1st (Willie Corduff)
Donal O’Kelly dedicates the Fringe First Award he received for “Fionnuala” to Willie and Mary Corduff

Afri are delighted to announce that Donal O’Kelly’s play about the Corrib Gas Project, “Fionnuala” has won a Fringe First award during the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Joyce McMillan described “Fionnuala” in the Scotsman as “Gripping, funny and full of a rich sense of Ireland’s great tradition of myth and legend… ruthlessly precise in its analysis of the deep malaise of 21st century Ireland in its subservient relationship with global corporate power and the threats faced by all of us in an age of ever more desperate energy extraction.”

“Fionnuala” is about the Corrib Gas fiasco foisted on a small rural community in County Mayo. Ambrose Keogh works for Shell. When the Tunnel Boring Machine he named Fionnuala sinks into the bog in Erris Co. Mayo, he is magically confronted by Fionnuala of the Children of Lir. Fionnuala puts a geas on him – he’s bound to tell the truth – about Shell. That brings to light some stark truths that Shell management would prefer wasn’t in the public arena. And it brings Ambrose back to his old primary school desk-mate, now an anti-Shell campaigner.

At the awards ceremony in Edinburgh, Donal dedicated the Fringe First to Willie and Mary Corduff and also thanked the people of Kilcommon for their support. Donal stated, “[I] hope that Fionnuala playing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival can be used to highlight the severe abuse of their basic civil rights for over a decade.”  Donal also thanked Afri and the 84 people who crowd funded the visit to Edinburgh for their support.

Article about Donal winning the Fringe First in Hotpress: here

Also, Donal speaking on RTE’s Arena show on Friday about the win (starting at 16 minutes in), click here.

Play now running in Dublin deals with themes taken up by UN Report

Afri welcomes the report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, in which she said she was concerned about “the situation faced by defenders and activists defending the right to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, particularly those peacefully protesting against the Corrib Gas project … There is tangible frustration amongst local residents who are standing up for their rights and feel powerless, isolated and have lost trust in public institutions”, she said.

Her report is strongly critical of the way in which the Gardai are policing the project and of the lack of adequate redress via the Garda Ombudsman’s office.

Coincidentally, a play dealing with the social and civil rights issues surrounding the Shell Corrib gas project is running this week, Thursday to Saturday in the Viking Theatre @ Connollys The Sheds, Clontarf, at 6.30pm (6pm Sat). In it, Ambrose Keogh, the Shell PR executive who named their Tunnel Boring Machine Fionnuala, is put under geas (spell) by Fionnuala of the Children of Lir to tell all he knows about Shell’s operations in Erris. The play is a combination of bog magic realism and factual documentary, set against the background of the installation of the TBM Fionnuala in the Shell site in Aughoose, Co. Mayo, in August last year.

“Cuts a swathe through Shell/State propaganda” Hot Press; “O’Kelly performs superbly” Sunday Independent.

One of the information sources used by the Special Rapporteur was the Ailliliú Fionnuala programme/booklet issued by Afri.


1. To read the UN Special Rapporteur’s Report see here: especially page 13 onwards.

2. To book “Ailliliú Fionnuala” contact Viking Theatre Dublin on 087 112 9970 or email

Ailliliú Fionnuala

Afri is proud to be associated with the upcoming première of Ailliliú Fionnuala, written and performed by Donal O’Kelly, directed by Sorcha Fox and presented by Benbo Productions.


Ailliliu_WEBAilliliú Fionnuala takes place on the shore of Sruwaddaconn Estuary in Erris, North Mayo, where the Shell high-pressure raw gas pipeline is under construction.
Ambrose Keogh works for Shell. When the Tunnel Boring Machine he named Fionnuala sinks into the bog, he comes face to face with Fionnuala of the Children of Lir herself in a fairy fort. Fionnuala puts a geas (spell) on him – he’s bound to tell the truth about Shell’s operations in Erris, such as the attack on Willie Corduff in the Shell site at Glengad.

Ambrose Keogh is joined in this ordeal by his primary school classmate, Malachy Downes, now an anti-pipeline campaigner. They are pushed to reveal truths about how the holders of power operate in Ireland, behind closed doors, with no regard for civil rights of citizens, then and now.

In the foyer of the theatre is a photo exhibition by photojournalist William Hederman, documenting the past seven years in the struggle against Shell in north Mayo.

For more details on this event, please see our facebook page:

Where: Theatre Upstairs, Lanigans, Eden Quay, Dublin 1.
When: 1pm to 1.50pm Monday-Saturday, 5th November –17th November 2012.
To book: Please contact The Theatre Upstairs directly – by email or by phoning 085 727 375.
Tickets cost €10 (or €8 concessionary rate).  Ticket price includes soup and bread.

The Elephant and the Mouse

It would appear that Kevin Hegarty occupies the same delusional world as Christy Mahon, whom he quotes, if he believes that coverage of the Corrib Gas conflict is unbalanced in favour of the community rather than Shell and its apologists. The evidence of Shell’s well-oiled and well financed propaganda machine – in which he is an enthusiastic cog – spinning stories aimed at undermining the courageous and legitimate opposition of the local community to this destructive project is clear for all to see.

That Kevin Hegarty is happy to collude with this discredited company, which is synonymous with human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world, from the Niger Delta to the Arctic Circle, is extraordinary. In doing so he conveniently chooses to ignore the fate of Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues who paid with their lives for standing up to Shell and who are appropriately memorialised at the gates of the refinery in Bellanaboy. I recently visited the Niger Delta and saw at first hand the devastation that Shell and other oil companies have wrought and how local communities have been robbed of their traditional livelihoods of farming and fishing as a result of the pollution of their lands and rivers. Continue reading “The Elephant and the Mouse”


Local resident Betty Schult spoke on the theme of occupation at Afri’s event organised in association with Friends of the Earth entitled “Ar Scáth a Chéile: Sustaining Hope and Humanity”  in Glenamoy Community Centre, County Mayo, on the 19th August 2012.

Afri calls for Suspension of Corrib Gas Work in wake of Earthquake

The Justice and Peace organisation Afri, has reiterated its call for a suspension of works and an independent assessment of all safety issues surrounding the Corrib Gas Project, in the wake of the magnitude 4.0 earthquake, which occurred on the 6th June 2012 60 kilometres from Belmullet, close to the Corrib gas field. The controversial project to extract gas, headed by Shell, is continuing, involving the building of a 5 kilometre pipeline linking the offshore pipeline to the Bellanaboy terminal.

Continue reading “Afri calls for Suspension of Corrib Gas Work in wake of Earthquake”