Two: Resisting Shell in Ireland: making and remaking alliances between communities, movements and activists

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The 15-year-long resistance to Shell’s pipeline in Rossport, Ireland became a strategic and symbolic site for resistance to neoliberalism and the petroleum industry, combining a community-based environmental justice struggle with a range of left social movements and international ecological activists. The movement faced state violence and media demonisation as well as divisions within the community, tensions between ecological and redistributive priorities and instrumentalisation by some political parties. Despite this the campaign was unusually long, forced substantial changes to state policy and contributed to anti-austerity alliance formation and popular learning processes in resisting fracking, as well as raising the political and financial cost of such projects. Its eventual defeat had more to do with the balance of forces against it than with internal difficulties. This chapter highlights the importance of sustained popular mobilisation, learning through action, counter expertise and alliance formation as key elements needed to bring about a better world.

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