The five Mayo men who were jailed for breach of an injunction against their protest over the Corrib gas pipeline have been released from custody.

The President of the High Court has warned them about their future conduct and will decide next month whether they are still to be punished for an illegal protest at the Corrib Gas Development site.

Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan also said he will hear evidence that Shell itself was in breach of court orders by continuing development, despite undertakings not to do so.

Lawyers for Shell had asked that the temporary injunction against the men be lifted, as it is now not possible to carry out any work on the site because of a safety review.

Speaking outside the High Court, one of the five men, Brendan Philbin, said today's decision was a victory for the ordinary person.

He said it had been a difficult for the men and their families but that the protest had been worth it and that they would do it all again.

He thanked the public for their support and the staff of Clover Hill prison.

High Court decision is welcomed

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has welcomed the release of the men.

Mr Ahern said the Government would implement any changes that may be recommended by international safety inspectors.

Supporters and relatives who gathered at the site of the planned gas terminal at Bellanaboy said they were absolutely delighted with the development.

The men were jailed for breaching a court injunction not to interfere with the construction of the Shell Corrib pipeline.

This morning, legal teams representing Shell Ireland and the men made contact with each other.

The communication followed an offer by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to appoint a mediator.

Shell Ireland said it was hopeful that Noel Dempsey's statement had brought a momentum to the process and the company was committed to finding a way to move the situation forward.

Mr Dempsey had been trying for several weeks to find a formula to get the men out of jail, sitting down in round table talks with Shell to address the safety issues surrounding the highly controversial pipeline.

Dr Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the men, said they had made it clear seven weeks ago that they would engage in talks if the injunction was lifted.

Mr Dempsey said that across the political system people wanted the controversy to be resolved.

Members of the Shell to Sea campaign have insisted that they would continue to demand that the company build an offshore instead of onshore terminal.