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Open Letter to Garda Supt. John Gilligan, Shell Barracks, An Garda Síochána, Belmullet, Co Mayo.
mayo | environment | news report Friday February 22, 2008 20:24 by Niall Harnett - Shell to Sea / Gluaiseacht
Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation.
Just a few questions for you Garda Superintendent John Gilligan, in light of the following:
I intend to be at Bellanaboy on the 29th February to protest against the Shell Corrib Gas Project that appears to be under development there despite the lack of consent for it among the local community and abroad.
I may travel up a day or two beforehand, or I may have to leave it till the morning of the 29th, depending on circumstances. So on the morning of the 29th I could be travelling to Bellanaboy from one of a number of directions; from the Bangor/Belmullet direction possibly or from the Glengad/Pollathomas side with some of the local people.
I say this because I believe that there were a number of Garda checkpoints on the roads approaching Bellanaboy on a recent ‘day of solidarity’ there, and a camp vehicle was stopped at around 7am on the morning of that day, Friday 1st February, by Gardaí who also wanted to search the vehicle. So I want to ask you about the likelihood of Gardaí wanting to also stop and search me and/or my vehicle on my way to the protest.
7am is an unusual time to meet a Garda checkpoint and I’ve been stopped occasionally myself in the past by Gardaí who said “it’s just a routine checkpoint under the Road Traffic Act”. I believe the campers were told the same thing the last day also despite the fact that their vehicle is certified roadworthy, taxed, insured and good order. But why then did Gardaí try to open all the doors of the camp vehicle and demand to search it? And why did Gardaí refuse to let them drive on about their personal business for refusing their consent to a vehicle search.
I should tell you, if it’s any assistance to you, that my own vehicle is certified roadworthy, taxed, insured and in good order too. And I should tell you also that if I’m stopped myself at such a checkpoint on Fri 29th or at any time, I will also be refusing to consent to any Garda wanting to stick his nose or hands in and around my vehicle. And I’ll be keeping my doors locked and windows up just in case a Garda thinks he has the right to search my person and be proactive about it. Cos it’s happened before, I’m sorry to say, when I was naïve and less careful. Oh yeah, I’ve actually been attacked by Gardaí, would you credit it, inside and outside of my vehicle and forcibly searched against my will, would you believe it?
So No, I won’t be consenting to any searches in those circumstances and I’ll be wanting to drive on about my personal business as soon as possible, without any further hindrance than is necessary to establish my licence to do so.
Unless of course a Garda has reason to suspect that I’m committing an offence. Or unless a Garda has reason to suspect that I might be carrying something illegal in my vehicle, like drugs or weapons for example. Yeah, I might consent to a search in those circumstances. But only if, yep, only if those circumstances exist.
Which they don’t.
Isn’t that right Superintendent Gilligan?
There is no reason for any Garda around Bellanaboy to suspect that I’m committing any offence or carrying anything illegal on my person or in my vehicle, is there? Or any ‘Shell to Sea vehicles’ for that matter. Is there?
But you obviously feel yourself that routine checkpoints are necessary in the pre-dawn hours of Shell to Sea Days of Solidarity. There must be a concern in your mind that perhaps that vehicles might be out of tax, or have a tyre that’s slightly balding, or might have a little rust around the windows or something. So you send out large numbers of Gardaí in the early morning darkness to stop and check vehicles under the Road Traffic Act, around Bellanaboy.
Are we to believe that it’s just coincidental that there is a protest going on there at the time where citizens are engaged in the expression of their convictions and opinions, assembling peaceably and without arms, and exercising their sovereign rights and fundamental political duties as established by Bunreacht na hEireann, the Constitution of our nation?
Let’s cut to the chase here.
You and your subordinates have only one interest in stopping people and vehicles around Bellanaboy. You are about the business of habitually harassing Shell to Sea protesters under colour of law. You plan and you strategise and you seek out legislative provisions that you can only abuse, to intimidate citizens of this nation. You bully and you assault the very people you have sworn to protect, and whose inalienable rights you are bound to respect, defend and vindicate.
You are a disgrace.
The three public imperatives of the Garda Síochána Corporate Strategy; public safety, public confidence and transparent public accountability are meaningless.
Who do you actually defend? Who does your ‘corporate’ strategy really protect? A foreign party with none of the rights attached to the people of Ireland. A corporation and a commercial entity only - Shell, who are bent on the exploitation of our environment, our social fabric, our health and safety and our natural resources, facilitated by government and where no benefit accrues to the people of our nation, Ireland.
And you have recently facilitated and assisted unlawful works being carried out on the SAC (Special Area of Conservation) by Shell, haven’t you?
Superintendent Gilligan, I think it’s time you resigned from your position before you get yourself into more any more trouble.
And I wouldn’t be advising any more Garda checkpoints around Bellanaboy.
Whether you like it or not, you know it’s true.
Face it like a man, swallow your pride, and do the right thing will you?