Reclaiming the Streets: Garda Review on the Ballinaboy Protests
rights, freedoms and repression |
Friday December 15, 2006 21:51 by Terry
“The important thing is that since the first day that we broke the barricade and secured the entrance, the workers have been going in and out. We haven’t altered any time schedules or anything else because the message that I want to send out is that I am in charge now. They are not. For the want of better words they have been ‘stood down’.”
- Superintendent Joe Gannon, Belmullet Station.
Neil Ward’s front page feature article in Garda Review, the magazine of the Garda Representative Association, draws heavily on an interview with Superintendent Joe Gannon to outline the Garda view on the protests at Ballinaboy. In the article, entitled Reclaiming the Streets, Gannon defines the problem as: “The entrance to the site was blocked for a year and a half. Local people had a veto on who went in and out of the site: it was out of this situation that the current operation was born.”
MarShell Law at Bellanaboy |
Eyewitness account from Rossport |
Corporate Media’s Sunday Shell Smear |
October 3rd Protests |
Start of Autumn Confrontation |
Rossport Solidarity Camp |
Shell to Sea Campaign |
Indymedia Mayo Archive
Contrary to the wild claims by newspapers such as the Sunday World
, there is no mention of the fact that the I.R.A. are in control of the protests. This is despite the fact that a Sunday World article of December 3rd “Rossport Campaign of Terror” draws on the Garda Review feature and maintains that it supports that paper’s earlier claims.
According to Garda Review, “More often than not Gardai would have to be called” to the scene of confrontations at the Rossport compound. In fact Gardai were very, very rarely called there; there were two or three incidents in the autumn of 2006 when Gardai were at the Rossport compound.
The article deals with events on September 26th - when the convoy of Shell workers were turned away , and says that in its wake the Garda’s Protest Removal Group “which had expert training to deal with people who were obstructing the roadway - and a tactical advisor were called in.”
As well as towing equipment, catering facilities, a Garda Press Office representative, and not to mention the 150 Gardai from outside the district. However, it later says that the Protest Removal Group was under the supervision of Sergeant Connor O’Reilly who it says was also the tactical advisor and he was present on September 26th - as the pictures in the article linked to above show. Perhaps the Protest Removal Group are the particularly aggressive policemen often accompanying O’Reilly.
October 3rd Protest
The article goes on to deal at length with the events of the 3rd of October saying that: “Gardai were aware that the protesters knew that something was imminent”. Gannon reveals that his plans to block off the Ballinaboy site at 3 a.m. on the morning of October the 3rd were frustrated by the fact protesters had begun to gather before midnight. “We planned to have a traffic cordon around the area, there are three main junctions where we would put up barriers and have static security. At 11 p.m. we had word that they (the protesters) had already congregated down there with their vehicles: that scuppered my initial plans.”
Gannon then details how, starting at 5 a.m., they removed vehicles with a tractor and people with the Protest Removal Group plus “teams of lifters who had been trained over the preceding days.” until “the protesters were in the corral flanked by Gardai.”
Don't Arrest - Just Assault
Gannon clearly states that there is a no arrest policy: “There were no arrests. That was part of our strategy: we did not want to facilitate anyone down there with a route to martyrdom. That has been the policy ever since.” The companion of the no arrest policy has been the assault policy. Some examples of which are documented here and here.
Many other instances have occurred away from the glare of days of action. The police have also threatened specific individuals. Gannon goes on to say of the constant police filming that: “it is evidence gathering: it is the sole reason” (according to the article that is 3 to 4 hours of footage per day). One wonders how ‘evidence gathering’ got married to a 'no arrest policy’. In regard to police filming Gannon defensively cites that fact some protesters have cameras saying: “Indymedia have been down there from day one.”
He is quite upset with this, saying: “it is always part of their operation to have a camera in your face - trying to agitate and get a reaction.” On the ground this is reflected in police behaviour which has included the seizure and destruction of cameras, and an assault upon an independent film maker plus seizure of his footage.
This is something we have seen at other protests, such as in Shannon where one person was charged with ‘intimidating and threatening behaviour’ which translated, in the form of the court room evidence of the arresting officer, means taking photos, likewise one film maker was injuncted off Aer Rianta property.
Of course far graver instances of state repression are seen elsewhere in the world, like the recent murder by pro-state paramilitaries of an Indymedia volunteer in Mexico.
Reclaim the Streets?
The ‘Reclaiming the Streets’ headline demonstrates just why they don’t like being filmed - they don’t like being found out as they memorably were in May 2002.
A perennial part of police strategy in dealing with public protest is finding someone to negotiate with. This was even the case with R.U.C. policing of civil rights demonstrations in the North in the late 60s.
Garda Review reveals that this has been a problem in Ballinaboy.
An unnamed ‘member’ says: “Protesters are organised to a certain level, but are leaderless and there is no command structure: which makes it hard to negotiate with them.” While Garda Gerry Burke says: “They are totally leaderless and there is no one to reason with.”
When it comes to the camp the discourse of good demonstrator and bad demonstrator breaks down into the ridiculous: “Members in the station have also noticed that the protesters are a mixture of local people and some genuine environmentalists up there, some Irish based and others over from the UK. Some stayed on a camp in Rossport throughout the winter and they are regarded as the ‘genuine environmentalists’. There are other ‘eco-warriors’ described as ‘rent-a-crowd’ and they are an unknown entity to the members in the Belumullet district.”
Extensive research has revealed that this ‘unknown entity’ is another camp, located on a secret island in Broadhaven bay, and staffed with communist alien stormtroopers from the planet bollox.
Outsiders brought in to make trouble for locals
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Gannon was also on Prime Time lying about the 'appalling and personal verbal abuse' against Gardaí in the early mornings around Bellanaboy.
This is just another example of how the police, the government, Jerry Cowley and the media take the real facts and rotate them 180 degrees into a lie they can use for their propoganda and their efforts to kill this campaign.
The 'appaling and personal verbal abuse' on these mornings has come directly from Gannon himself, his 'technical advisor' Sgt. Conor O'Reilly, Inspector Pat Robinson and Sgt Dermot Butler MY28 among others. One victim of this verbal abuse, aswell as continued harassment and assault, has been local resident John Monaghan who has been the victim of foul utterances about his wife from the mouth of Sgt Dermot Butler MY28, Belmullet.
Gannon continues to say that Garda restraint has been 'considerable, reasonable and proportionate'.
Again, a rotation of the truth. - The Gardaí have been vicious and out of control.
It is the protestors who have shown 'considerable restraint' in the face of Garda violence which has been directly instigated by Gannon himself and his sub-ordinates out of Belmullet Garda Station.
For example, on Fri 10th November, Superintendent Joe Gannon and 30 Gardaí viciously assaulted about 25 women and men who were staging a sit-down protest at Shell sub-contractors' Lennon's Quarry, Glencastle. Gannon, Robinson and Butler first attacked Niall Harnett, who was standing back filming the protest, smashing his camera and kicking him across the road before throwing him onto a barbed wire fence and into a field below. Gannon was seen kicking Niall in the groin while he lay on the ground, before moving back with the other 30 Gardaí for what can only be described as an all out attack on a peaceful protest with vicious kickings and beatings of women and men who DID NOT RETALIATE. Another man Michael Nolan, who walked away on his own through the fields back out to the main road, was followed by Sgt. Conor O'Reilly who beat him to the ground and kicked him in the head and face shouting 'more pain, more pain' to the other Gardaí who were attacking him. Mick had to be taken by ambulance to Castlebar hospital an hour later.
Garda Restraint?!! Tell it to the judge.
Supt. Joe Gannon ignores John Monaghan's complaints about the 'appaling verbal abuse' against his wife.
Gannon & his thugs - 'Technical Advisor' Sgt Conor O'Reilly (left) & Sgt Dermot Butler MY28 (right).
& Inspector Pat Robinson (right).
Ask Mick Nolan about Garda restraint.
Thanks for the above article , the media spin on the corrib story is spiraling out of control!!!
wish i could make indymedia compulsory reading for all....
i finally over came the tech gremlins that have been holding my files to ransom and have finally uploaded 2 shorts from the Nov 10th day of action.
“The important thing is that since the first day that we broke the barricade and secured the entrance, the workers have been going in and out. We haven’t altered any time schedules or anything else because the message that I want to send out is that I am in charge now. They are not. For the want of better words they have been ‘stood down’.” -
I think the above memtioned comment from Joe Gannon is a real wake up call for S2S activists. I feel that we are still recovering from the decision to call off the last day of action and effectively giving renewed energy and determination to shell and the government that the project can be pushed ahead.
Basically we need to get the national days of action off the ground again as soon as possible. And in Mayo at the refineary, not in Dublin. Thought that has its use too, We need to be visible in Mayo. However, the garda's attitute now one could also taken as being no bad thing. Getting them into a flase sense of comfort before we march and blockade again. We need to Blockade, I can't see any other way forward. This slump cannot last.
Yeah it seems like whatever steam/momentum was there for S2S really evaporated after the day of action was called off. Maybe it'll pick up again in the new year when the weather gets better.
The momentum lost, the wind gone out of our sails and Shell to Sea becalmed in the Sargasso Sea where, irony of ironies, we fought so hard to consign Shell to or at least its fringes, fuck manana and procrastination.
Am I alone in this, as long as the pusillanimity of Mark Garavan & co is tolerated by S2S, we ain't going nowhere except implosion?. Blockade ! Blockade! Blockade! for Chrissakes !.
Disgusting garda lies and brutality.
Disgusting too the failure of comparable environmental protests elsewhere in Ireland to rally to S2S side. CHASE etc should be ashamed of themselves - the same pusilanimity about direct action and the utterly stupid conviction that by particiapting in the governments little end games they are going to get somewhere is unbelievable - given all they have already seen of government manipulation. Shell objectors should take some heart from the fact there is always going to be a long time in which to tell the truth - but the campaign itself needs a new direction and much better national and media coordination.
Evident that gardai can manipulate law. Thought they were civil servants to carry out instructions. Cannot understand that a civil servant can talk to the press. Anyway it shows up the utter flexibility that the Gardia operates with. Makes no sense. Press statements have a format and spokesmen. Is Gannon one of these and does he not obey the format? Not his place at all to speak in the circumstances. Duty to protect protestors as well as Shell workers. Must not publicly take sides by use of language such as 'them '.
Please take the opportunity to present a large banner stretch of support outside the Four Courts on 16 january 2007 for Willie Corduff, Brid Mc Garry, Brendan Philibin and Philip Mc Grath.
On BBC Radio 4 yesterday, a Governm't spokesman acknowledged 'how very difficult it is to make progress in the face of even a few vocal protestors in the neighbourhood' - let's keep at it folks! Even if the next Day of Action is cancelled/postponed, it's surely a personal decision whether people turn up. Try to ensure yr own safety, but keep up the action. C'mon everybody!!!!!!! For the people, the beautiful & unique environment, the seals, dolphins, etc., keep on.
On Christmas week when you'd think people would be concentrating on winding down, (understandable in light of recent disappointments), in fact more people are returning to a reviving picket at Bellanaboy. Garda brutes, reeking of drink, continue to throw their weight around and campaigners are growing very impatient with all this lawless bullying. Hope to have a report by the weekend, if I can protect my camera!
Now that the Russians in the guise of Gazprom and the Nigerians in the shape of the 'Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta' have stated it explicitly: "What we are fighting for is resource control and we will not stop until we achieve our objective." now is the time for Shell to Sea to nail its colours alongside its brothers in arms?. Undemocratic Putin and Gazprom have cowed Shell with threats of "democratic" legal action over its despoliation of Sakhalin island and environs and the 'Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta' are trying to do the same with more vigorous "terrorist" actions.
At the very least, Shell to Sea has to beard and attempt to bring Shell and its fellow traveller in government, Ahern, to heel with blockade after blockade after blockade in Bellanaboy in the New Year?.
Now that the Russians and Nigerians have spearheaded our way. Now that the moment of truth is in S2S's parlour and cannot be ignored except with wilful pusillanimity and the blind eye, it behoves us to blockade, blockade and again blockade until we achieve our objective; whether its evicting Shell to Sea or going further, to regain control of our resources, sold for a mess of pottage and the contents of a brown envelope in days of shame?.
Violence breeds violence.
The Gardai are following orders, Guardians of the Peace, if the peace is broken, it is their duty to rectify the problem, however they see fit.
The Protesters have the right to Protest. Our Consititution states this right. Whether I, you or we agree on their motives & control of the situation, is indifferent. Its the right thing to do.
Shell in Ireland has no longer a Face. Shell Ireland was bought out by Topaz Oil. Shell UK is the problem. Protest at their offices. Make the scandel an internationally known issue. Protests in Bally-go-Backwards means nothing to them. Bring the problem to the public, hit the pockets of the Company. Nothing more works finer.
It could be worse!! If a situation warrants, the Gardai can deploy the Riot Squad. They take no shit!!
Worse again, the powers that be could order the deployment of Troops. PDF Troops, these boys & girls are the very best. 30 Troops would elimanate & disperse all but the toughest of crowds.
I for one am happy, that even though all do not agree with the situation, we can still agree to disagree!!
The powers that be, have still left the Gardai in control of the situation. A friendier face than the other. Blue, Black or Green its the peoples choice.
Personally I think the authorities have acted very lightly. Most jurisdictions would of waged war by this stage.
The following is the oath taken by members of the Gardai. I cannot access fadas on this instrument but the text is from the Garda Press Office and it can be verifed. I hope citizens will carry this text on their persons and record ALL incidents where Gaact in violation of their OATH of office, for the purposes of registering same information "ON THE RECORD" in or out of court
If my memory serves me the Black and Tans operated under the Defence Of the Realm Act DORA. The current context is not that of DORA !
" I ______hereby solemnly and sincerely declare before God that - I will faithfully discharge the duties of a member of the Garad Siochana with fairness, integrity , regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the Constitution and the laws and according equal respet to all people."
( 2005)( No 20) Garda Siochana Act 2005.
The "FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS" section, Article 40, of the Constitution ,confers an express protection upon "the life, person, and property rights of every citizen" !
I hope our violated and oppressed citizens will invoke their "Fundamental " Constitutional Rights.
Yes, there's been a lot of talk and mention about that oath, but it's nice to see it down in black and white now.
Very useful thank you.
Regards and a Happy Christmas to you and all our friends and supporters.
- to all S2S supporters - take care of y'selves & don't let violent guards get yez - God bless & here's to a grand New Year!
Lets hope everyone has a break for Christmas and we all come back recharged for the struggle ahead,its going to be a very tough one.
Maybe Bart and Lisa's involvement might break Shell and the state...who knows
Happy Christmas to all in Shell to Sea!
C'mon lets send them to sea NOW!
Many thanks Local Resident, my apologies for the two typing errors. The next section of the Oath, which I was not in possession of when I entered it on this site, is as follows:
OATH of An Garda Siochana
" while I continue to be a member, I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all my duties according to law, and
I do not belong to and will not while I remain a member form, belong to, or subscribe to any political party or secret society whatsoever ."
Just struck me as to what "law" is invoked when you good people are being batoned and threatened with your lives, if you continue to exercise your rights and your duties, to protect yourselves against "unjust attack". Have some of these garda sought to be relased from their OATH to so act ? Me very much doubts it. D.O.R.A. is NOT the context.
Beir Bua M L
Who takes an oath and then kick you in the balls, who takes an oath and kicks you so hard in the back of your knee, that your leg is 180 degrees off set. Then they force you down a 10 foot drain half filled with black shite from the drains running out of shells bellenaboy site, who's giving sup. gannon his orders, who is to blame for me being crippled for 7weeks so far and the Dr. says springtime, I might be better. It's not my fucking fault for being there like fucking O'rielly stated, where does it state in civil rights or what ever fucken law, that the garda have the right to cripple you for taken photos, I told the ban garda that I was going home before she grabbed me and stated your going no fucken where. Do we have any rights or are we just going to let the garda assault us in the name of shell, they stll don't have full planning permission yet, so are the garda assaulting us for, if shell gets planning permission in 2007. I'm finding it hard to believe that garda can do what they want with out any law applying to them, if that the case then there is no law .......fuck that
Most Gardai are sound enough, but there are some baton-happy gobshites in the force who love nothing more than showing their power in an unecessarily physical way.
However, I have little sympathy for the 'peaceful' protestors, of whom a large portion (if not a majority) are your typical left-wing students and the like on a day out. Protesting is all well and good, but not
a) when you're not even from the area of concern
b) you're more concerned about the 'evil' that is capitalism than a wee Mayo community
c) you have no popular mandate on either a local or national scale.
Time's up protestors, I'll give it to you, ye put up a decent fight. But guess what, the big bad corporation and the establishment won again....damn democracy, eh?! Still, you can all bask in the thought that back in 2006 ye struck a blow for the socialist cause (by stopping people getting to work) and for the ordinary man-on-the-street (by showing no regard for majority rule).
The fact that the ShellToSea campaign is still being discussed means it is very much alive, and local opposition to the current plans for Bellanaboy is, if anything, stronger than it was before Christmas. Sure, we're only getting started!
As for thanks, it would be a very foolish person who'd think congratulations were due for all the hassle of the last seven years, and only an even bigger fool would suggest that "thanks" is the reason for opposition in the first place!
No. Opposition is always regarded as negative, and always will be. The unfortunate thing is that the right of every person to be safe in their home, to live in a clean environment that can be passed on to the next generation, or to live in a country free of persecution from whatever quarter, is deemed by some to be inferior to corporate greed.
"new year same reality" ... Shame on you.
To bring the discussion back on track, here is an excerpt from "Riding The Dragon" about police actions in Nigeria.
Shell's backup in Nigeria - seems familiar
Does this cover everything?
Thought it might be interesting to scan and upload original Garda Review Article- this is page 1, hopefully you can click to enlarge to read the text
more pages from the original Garda Review article
Watching the clip of the Shell to Sea protestors being battered black and blue by members of the 'Guardians of the Peace' (a misnomer if ever there was one) it really makes by blood boil to see the brutish tactics employed by these thugs in uniform and then an article appearing in their propaganda magazine praising their good work.
In my opinion, you cannot be a decent, moral human being and be a member of An Garda Síochána, because anyone who joins such an organisation and feels justified in violently abusing protestors and shooting innocent people have no conscience and do not deserve any respect nor support from the people of this island. An Garda Síochána are an absolute embarrassment and a disgrace to the Nation.
click to enlarge the pages to a size where the text is readable
6. Some protestors have been prepared to be arrested in order to make a political statement WITHIN THEIR RIGHTS of free speech, but Gardai have publicly stated and practiced a policy of refusal to arrest peaceful protestors.
"There were no arrests. That was part of our strategy; we did not want to facilitate anyone down there with a route to martyrdom" - Garda Review
If anyone needed proof that the gardai are operating to an agenda and not to enforce the law here we have it , from their own mouths. This demonstrates the appalling lack of professionalism and bias present in our police force. Is there any public representative with the guts to highlight this extraordinary admittance by the gardai - that they deliberately and with calculation sought to deny Irish citizens their constitutional rights.
If the Garda Commissioner stands over this then he is a disgrace to his office and to the GS.
"Is there any public representative with the guts to highlight this extraordinary admittance by the gardai"
we're not sure what price Finian McGrath, Tony Gregory and the Greens asked for a say in government, but we know what they sold - their SILENCE - what a poor excuse for men!
Tony Gregory is not in the government.
I wish the police WERE being paid by shell. At least then having loads of them in bellinaboy would be a drain on shells resources and not the irish taxpayers. And the result would be much the same in terms of beatings etc. In fact shell would have to be seen to be a bit more careful. The gardai don't have to give as much of a shit.
The current situation just adds insult to injury and does not impact on shell financially. We are in effect paying to facilitate the stealing of our own gas.
can we take it from tony gregorys silence that he is no longer interested in the shell saga?
Has he given Shell-to sea any support since the election?
i would genuinely like to know.
"we did not want to facilitate anyone down there with a route to martyrdom"
the 'down there' part shows the attitude of the garda brass to 'the wesht' and particularly to the people of Rossport.
It's strange this edition of the Garda review is STILL not on the GRA website www.gra.cc
are they ashamed?