Shell to Sea notes the resignation of Alan Shatter and his replacement by Frances Fitzgerald as Minister for Justice as a long overdue development. Terence Conway, Shell to Sea spokesperson, says “Alan Shatter showed contempt for everybody who raised issues of wrongdoing in an Garda Siochána and it was clear he never had any intention of dealing with institutional corruption in the Gardaí. We ask that his successor takes immediate action to deal with the blatant abuses of power that, unfortunately, are rampant within the force.”
While Mr Shatter came under strong criticism for his handling of the Garda whistleblowers, the bugging of GSOC's offices and the penalty points controversy, his refusal to consider any investigation of Garda policies, tactics and procedures in relation to the policing of the Shell/Corrib dispute was nothing short of beligerent. Not only did Minister Shatter rebuke every call for an inquiry into the Gardaí in relation to this matter, he also engaged in a hostile campaign to discredit the legitimate protests that have taken place in north Mayo since 2002, consistently refering to “protest tourism” and attempting to obscure the fact that opposition to Shell/Corrib stems first and foremost from local residents who have never been properly consulted nor given their consent for the imposition of a massive industrial project in the heart of their community.
The issues relating to breaches of fundamental human rights by Gardaí policing the Shell/Corrib dispute have been highlighted by various NGO's such as AFRI, TABLE Observers, Frontline Defenders and UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Margaret Sekeggya, when she visited Ireland in 2012 and recommended full independence be given to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission to investigate the matter.
Shell to Sea will be contacting Frances Fitzgerald, the new Minister requesting she authorise GSOC to conduct a section 106 investigation of the Gardaí's role in north Mayo and re-iterating our demand for fully independent international inquiry into all aspects of the Shell/Corrib dispute. Shell to Sea also support retired Garda John Wilson's demand that the next Commissioner of the Garda be recruited from outside the ranks of the force as only a fully independent person can bring about the change necessary to restore public confidence in the Gardaí.