Five people arrested after a protest on the road leading to the Corrib gas pipeline landfall site earlier today are still being held.

The three men and two women, who are being held at Belmullet Garda station, were arrested in north Mayo earlier for alleged public order offences.

Two fishermen who were arrested at sea after their boats approached the pipe laying vessel the Solitaire have now been released.

Shell Ireland have said work on laying the pipeline has now been suspended following damage to equipment on board the ship, which was brought in to carry out the work.

Company spokesman Sean Egan said the ship was within one hour of beginning the pipe laying operation when the technical damage occurred.

The Solitaire has now left the area and is believed to be returning to Killybegs to have the damage assessed.

In a statement, Shell Ireland said it was too early to say how the technical problem arose.

One of the three fishermen held last night, Pat O'Donnell, said he was exercising his constitutional right to fish in the area.

A garda spokesman said they were arrested for alleged public order offences arising from approaching the Solitaire.

At around 8.30am this morning, two other men were also arrested at Broadhaven Bay by the Garda Water Unit.

A large force of gardaí were on duty in the area this morning where work was due to begin on the laying of pipeline.

A number of roadblocks were set up near Glengad, the location where the pipe linking the gas fields to a €300m refinery will come ashore.

A leading member of the Shell to Sea campaign group, Maura Harrington, has begun a hunger strike over the issue.

Ms Harrington says her hunger strike will continue tonight.