'The Pipe' comes to Donegal
by sue doherty
The award-winning documentary ‘The Pipe', which tells the story of the Rossport, Co. Mayo protest against the Shell gas pipeline, comes to Donegal this week. Screenings start tomorrow at Century Cinemas, Letterkenny and more are planned for Ballyshannon, Buncrana, Killybegs and Malin Head.
On June 29th, 2005, five men from Rossport were imprisoned for 94 days for defying a court injunction allowing Shell Oil workers to enter their land to lay a high pressure, raw gas pipeline close to their homes.
In his film, which was four years in the making, director Risteard O Domhnaill follows three local people as the local community becomes increasingly divided about the project and the protest.
Variety, the film industry's leading publication, calls the film "a stirring, character-rich documentary" which is "beautifully composed and valiantly photographed". The paper's critic, John Anderson adds: "O Domhnaill shoots clashes between Rossport villagers and members of the Irish Garda so closely you can virtually feel the rioters' breath in your face. The film is also politically astute. Shell will move on, ‘The Pipe' implies, but the wounds left behind on a small community like Rossport - where neighbour fought neighbour - will take generations to heal, if at all."
Risteard, better known as Ritchie, says the film should resonate with Donegal audiences.
"The issues raised in the film may become very relevant for Donegal in the not too distant future. Off the coast, there is an oil and gas frontier that's likely to open up, given the decreasing reserves of oil and gas around the world and the increasing prices.
"There are proven gas and oil reserves off the west coast of of Donegal, such as Dooish, which was bought over by Shell. It's probably not a question of if but when gas and oil will be brought in. The big question is how much is out there. Yet there are no guarantees that the people of Donegal or even the Irish state will benefit - the terms are far too lax. Companies can write off 100% of their exploration and development costs, for example.
"Also, when you consider that exploration has been going on off the west coast since the mid ‘70s, it has to be said that Killybegs hasn't realised its potential as a service port for those projects. Up to the ‘90s, a lot of Irish workers were employed on the rigs, but since the 1990s, most companies have employed workers from the UK. The potential for Killybegs to service oil and gas exploration projects could be far greater."
‘The Pipe' will be screened at Century Cinemas, Letterkenny daily at 6.30pm from tomorrow (Friday, January 21st) to Thursday, January 27th and at The Abbey Centre, Ballyshannon on Friday, February 4th at 8pm.