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Dublin Opinion >>
Shell to Sea Court Cases - 19 Oct
Friday October 19, 2007 16:59 by Rudiger
Summary of the Shell to Sea cases heard in Belmullet on the 19th of October 2007
Martin & Pat O'Donnell on the day of the alleged assault
This morning a special sitting of Belmullet District Court took place to deal with assault, obstruction and threating & abusive behaviour charges dating from Friday, 19th January 2007 against 4 Shell to Sea protestors. It had been thought that the case would be heard today but Judge Mary Devins adjourned the case until the 12th of December. She adjourned the case in order to let the prosecution time to prepare to answer some serious reservations she had regarding the case.
Firstly the method and time it had taken to issue proceedings against the 4 men was raised by the judge. Basically, the Gardaí initiated proceedings against the 4 men over the incident just 2 days before the 6 month time window in which proceedings could be taken expired. The men then received the summonses in August. Solicitor for the 4 men, Alan Gannon stated in court that he believed it was because the Gardaí found out that the 4 men had initiated a civil case against the Gardaí involving the issue, that prompted the Gardaí to issue counter-charges against the men.
Secondly, the judge also stated her misgivings about some of the evidence that the gardaí planned to use. The garda video evidence mysteriously has a 7 minute gap in it and by pure coincidence that 7 minutes contained the alleged assault on the garda. The official garda explanation of this missing video section is that the video camera must have received a knock which put the camera on standby and that the camera operator, Garda Greg Burke believed that he was recording as normal.
Finally the judge stated that she had serious concerns on the fact that the state had dropped assault charges which had been initiated against John Monaghan with regard to the incident at McGrath’s Pier on 11th of June. This case had appeared before Judge Devins although she had sent the case to the Circuit Court, whereupon the DPP had dropped the case. Judge Devins stated that she was concerned that it was seen that a lesser burden of proof was needed to pursue a conviction in the District court than in the Circuit court.
It should be worth noting that the incident the charges arise from, resulted in 3 of the men involved going to hospital and also 1 of the men requiring dental treatment on the day. I’m unsure as to what injuries are claimed on the garda side. For a rundown on the day in question, check out: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/80543
The case of the alleged assault by John Monaghan outside the polling station was also up for mention, where the state had been asked to produce evidence that gardaí are allowed in a polling station. This case was adjourned until the 14th of November (which will be the 7th time of appearance) in order to let the judge go through this evidence.
It has to be becoming apparent to Judge Devins at this stage that the whole Garda operation regarding Shell 2 Sea has serious questions behind it. So far, in dealing with S2S cases, Judge Devins has kept evidence very focused on the narrow details of the cases and quickly cut off evidence of wider environmental concerns or wider gardaí brutality. But every new case that she hears gradually draws in more and more details of what the gardaí are doing to the local people, and it seems that she is slowly becoming more aware of the suitation. In the first case involving Shell 2 Sea protestors in front of her, she chose to believe garda evidence over protestors’ evidence and found 3 men guilty of assault (which is being appealed), hopefully from now on she will hold garda evidence up to more scrutiny.
Meanwhile, yesterday Shell began boring test holes in Glengad where the proposed pipeline would make landfall. This is situated about 200m away from Rossport Solidarity Camp, who have been ordered to dismantle the camp because of damage the camp was doing to the ecology of the area. Yesterday at 6am Shell moved in a port cabin and a drilling machine to the area where a pressure reduction facility is proposed to be built. This morning about 25 people turned up to block access to the road down to the landfall area although no Shell employee turned up to gain entry (the road still hasn’t received planning permission, some of which in on an SAC). The presence was maintained until 10am when people dispersed to go to court, it seems sometime after this that Shell workers began drilling down there again.
Shell road through the SAC