“…we declare that the nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nations soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation…It shall be our duty to promote the development of the Nation’s resources…to exploit its mineral resources…for the benefit of the Irish people.”
~ Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, 1919
We Only Want the Earth – Ireland’s Oil & Gas for the people of Ireland
Like those who drafted the Democratic Programme quoted above, éirígí believes that the Irish people have a fundamental right to the ownership of all of Ireland’s natural resources. In other words éirígí believes that Ireland’s naturally occurring wealth should be used for the benefit of the many and not just the few. The wealth generated from resources such as farmland, forestry, peat bogs, fisheries, oil, gas, wave/wind power, lead, zinc etc should be used for the provision of public services such as healthcare, education, housing and so forth.
In recent years a number of Irish oil and gas reserves have been discovered. Together they are potentially worth hundreds of billions of euro. Despite the obvious strategic importance of these reserves the Dublin government has handed over the rights to all Irish oil and gas explorations to a host of domestic and foreign private energy companies.
This ongoing act of economic treason is greatly exacerbated by the fact that energy prices are set to rise steeply over the coming decades as the world’s oil reserves dwindle. The human cost of these increasing energy prices is already apparent. In Ireland hundreds of thousands are struggling to heat their homes as the reality of fuel poverty takes hold in post-‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. A staggering 3,000 people die each year in Ireland due to preventable, cold-related illness.
Through its We Only Want the Earth! campaign, éirígí has been to the fore in the fight to protect Ireland’s oil and gas reserves from the parasitic clutches of the private energy companies. As one of the constituent organisations within the Shell to Sea campaign éirígí has assisted in stalling Shell’s exploitation of the Corrib gas field for more than five years.
We Only Want the Earth! has seen éirígí activist distribute tens of thousands of information leaflets, posters and stickers relating to Shell’s controversial Corrib project. éirígí activists have organised, and participated in, countless anti-Shell protests and direct actions in Mayo, Dublin, Belfast, Wicklow, Sligo, Donegal and elsewhere.
The response of the state and the private energy companies to these legitimate peaceful protests has been entirely predictable. Both the Gardai and Shell’s private ‘security contractors’ have subjected éirígí activists to a range of reprehensible tactics including verbal abuse, intimidation, physical assault, arrest and trial. These tactics have not, and will not, deter éirígí from protecting that which rightfully belongs to the people of Ireland.
We Only Want the Earth! is calling for:
- The ending of all ongoing negotiations in relation to further oil and gas exploration, pending the introduction of new terms for same.
- The renegotiation of all existing oil and gas exploration contracts on the basis of returning ownership of all oil and gas reserves to the Irish people.
- The establishment of a new state-controlled oil and gas exploration company.
- The development of a new set of terms for all future oil and gas exploration. Such terms would include the participation of the state-controlled oil and gas company as the major partner in all exploration projects.
- Where it is necessary to include private energy companies on such projects appropriate rates of taxation shall be paid.
‘We Only Want the Earth!’ has already succeeded in:
- Raising awareness in relation to the issue of Ireland’s oil and gas reserves and the use to which they are put.
- Highlighting and directly challenging the Dublin government on its oil and gas giveaway.
- Directly challenging the private energy companies involved in the robbery of Ireland’s oil and gas reserves.
- Contributing to the stalling of Shell’s exploitation of the Corrib gas field.
- Assisting in the building of popular opposition to the oil and gas giveaway.
- Providing solidarity and practical support to individuals, organisations and communities that are actively resisting the oil and gas giveaway.