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Shell to Sea protesters paddle out to hand over letter

Shell to Sea protesters paddled a mile in their kayaks yesterday as they attempted to hand over a letter of protest directly to the captain of the world's largest pipe-laying vessel.

Three members of the group boarded the 400m-long Solitaire in St John's Bay, Killybegs, Co Donegal. The vessel is due to help lay a huge pipe linking Shell's Corrib gas field with an on-shore terminal at Bellanaboy, Co Mayo. The five initially had problems getting on board as a security team blocked their path.

Eventually a crew member of the Solitaire met the three Shell to Sea members and accepted the letter on behalf of the captain. The protesters were later informed by radio that the captain had received the letter.

One of the members who boarded the boat said they made the mile-long paddle as they had received no response from a letter given to Captain Simon Van Der Plicht two weeks ago. The Solitaire, which was meant to be in Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo in mid-August, is still anchored off the Donegal coast, but locals and protesters say the ship now appears fully crewed.

The protesters made the sea crossing to the Solitaire in kayaks and paddle boats called Geronimo, Bobby Sands, Jim Larkin, James Connolly, Luke Kelly and Phil Lynott.

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