The Rossport Five (Cúigear Ros Dumhach) are James Brendan Philbin, brothers Philip and Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff and Micheál Ó Seighin. All five are from County Mayo, Ireland were jailed on 29 June 2005 by Justice Finnegan, President of the High Court of the Republic of Ireland, for contempt of court after refusing to obey a temporary court injunction forbidding them to interfere with work being undertaken by Shell on their land. Shell intended to build a high pressure raw gas pipeline across land in Rossport to pipe gas from the offshore Corrib Gas Field. Three of the five men own land in Rossport: Vincent McGrath and Ó Seighin were brought to court along with them as they had assisted in blocking the Shell workers. About thirty others who had done the same were not charged. The government granted planning permission to Enterprise Oil (subsequently taken over by Shell) to build an onshore gas processing plant and to supply it using a high pressure pipeline which runs close to the houses of some of these men.
There were protests all over Ireland during the period of the men's imprisonment, with Shell, and their junior partner Statoil, filling stations being picketed and blockaded by both political activists and ordinary members of the public. Defending his company's stance, Shell Ireland's CEO Andy Pyle said: "The fact is that we've gone through a process, and we have five people who don't like the outcome." All Shell sites around Rossport and Bellinaboy were blockaded by the mens' neighbours, preventing work. Local TD Michael Ring said that Ireland was now a "dictatorship within a democracy". In an unusual move by the Irish judiciary, the men were told that a judge would be on hand at any time of day or night, if they wanted to purge their contempt, i.e. promise they would allow Shell to build on their lands. But the men did not avail of this.
The men were released from Cloverhill Prison on 30 September 2005, after 94 days, when Shell applied to the High Court to have the injunction lifted. This came after intense media and political scrutiny of the case. The campaign to free the men consolidated into Shell to Sea after their release.
The five men and their supporters have continued to campaign on the issue. In September 2006, a TNS/MRBI poll commissioned by RTE showed that "Two thirds of those surveyed (throughout County Mayo) supported the stance taken by the five men from Rossport in their defiance of a court order in relation to the Corrib Gas pipeline.", with less than a quarter disagreeing with them.
In January 2007, an account of events leading up their imprisonment was published by the Rossport Five.
In April 2007, Wille Corduff won the Goldman Environmental Prize on behalf of Europe. No government representative was present, though representatives were present from other countries for their winners.
Shell Gas Field Protesters Threaten to Turn Ireland into a New Nigeria ; 'Rossport Five' Warn That More Local People Are Ready to Go to Jail over Plans to Pipe Raw Gas across Their Land
Apr 30, 2006; The Rossport Five, who went to jail last year for their protests against a planned Shell gas pipeline in Ireland, have warned...