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Open Letter to Garda Supt. John Gilligan, Shell Barracks, An Garda Síochána, Belmullet, Co Mayo.

category mayo | environment | news report author Friday February 22, 2008 20:24author by Niall Harnett - Shell to Sea / Gluaiseacht Report this post to the editors

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:

1) Recent functions that you and other Gardaí have been performing in your role as ‘police service providers’ for the Shell Corrib Gas Project development at Bellanaboy and the surrounding areas.

2) ‘The new era in the modernisation and development of the Garda Síochána, focusing on the three public imperatives of the Garda Síochána Corporate Strategy; public safety, public confidence and transparent public accountability.’

3) Your solemn oath on appointment to An Garda Siochana that you will faithfully discharge the duties of a member of the Garda Síochána with fairness, integrity, regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the Constitution and the laws and according equal respect to all people, and while continuing to be a member, you will to the best of your skill and knowledge discharge all your duties according to law.

Supt. Gilligan,

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.

Niall Harnett.

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?

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/82108
author by Niallpublication date Fri Feb 22, 2008 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Garda Superintendent John Gilligan
An Garda Síochána
Co Mayo

14th February 2008

Supt. Gilligan,

I believe that you and some other members of An Garda Síochána were down on the SAC in Glengad on Tuesday 12th February ‘07 assaulting and arresting members of the local community for their opposition to unlawful works being carried out there by Shell and their contactors.

I say ‘unlawful works’ but maybe you’re in a better position to clarify this if I’m wrong, with comprehensive and clear answers to all of the following questions please?

1. What authority do Shell, RPS (Rural Planning Services) or any other Shell contractor have to do any of these ‘works’ on these SAC lands?

2. In what capacity do you an the Gardaí operate when assisting Shell in carrying out these works?

3. What reasons did citizens there give to you for their opposition to these works?

4. What authority do you have, and/or what legislation do you say provides it, for you to 1) assist and support Shell in the carrying out of these works, 2) instruct members of the local community to desist from opposing such works, and 3) use force to remove, assault and arrest them.

5. Furthermore, why do you allow Gardaí to assault people with cameras in an effort to stop them from taking photos and filming? Have you ever done so yourself?

6. And finally, are these decisions that you make yourself or are you receiving instruction and orders from higher ranking Gardaí? If so, what are these orders and who is giving them to you?

Can I remind you that, as a member of An Garda Síochána you are publicly accountable for your decisions and actions, and even more obliged in your role as Garda Superintendent, to answer these questions. And so, I’d appreciate a reply to this letter as a matter of urgency, by registered post at your earliest convenience, and without quibble, please.

Thank you,

Niall Harnett

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/86230
author by Delboypublication date Fri Feb 22, 2008 20:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pertinent moment here in this clip at about 2mins 25seconds in.

“I know a lot of coppers and they’re all good blokes. I don’t like ‘em but they play a fair game … then there’s you.”

author by C McCpublication date Sat Feb 23, 2008 13:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've been an Amnesty member for a long time, & I was shocked at the behaviour of the Gardai around Ballinaboy; the sort of behaviour we've been campaigning against in the world's least developed & educated nations.
Well said, Niall, but what answer could he possibly give about the totally indefensible actions of his officers in this situation?

author by Niallpublication date Sun Feb 24, 2008 20:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I suggest he's gonna have to start thinking of answers sooner or later, for one reason or other.

They're absolutely reasonable questions, he's bound to answer them, and there's an imperative to answer them now.

If he can't, or won't, then he should resign, pass the poison chalice to some other Yesman, and go home.

author by We the Peoplepublication date Mon Feb 25, 2008 08:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the Truth is an insult it means times are bad and People like Niall are needed more than ever to help protect the rights of all ,including yours ,from being wiped out.

Ignore your Health and it will go away. Ignore your rights and they will go away.

Whether this ,not so Civil Civil servant answers Niall or not is of not the point.
If the Letter is Registered ,it will be 'on the record' that the Supt. ignored Niall who,he has a paid duty towards.

A lot has gone wrong since the first Commissioner's statement in 1922.............
'An Garda Siochana will succeed not by force of Arms or numbers but on their moral Authority as servants of the People'.

I believe Niall and others have no desire to have to put time into this as most of us have work to do. I think you fall into the catagory of Apathy. Why bother do anything attitude. These rights that are being violated are also your rights.

Think about it and use YOUR brain.

author by Fearbolg - S2Spublication date Mon Feb 25, 2008 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nobody's stopping the workers.

Ask any of the people going in there for their blood money (about 70% of them from outside Erris), and they'll tell you they're going to work

unchallenged every morning. The real challenges, as you very well know, are the grevious attack on the Democracy of this country which

Corrib serves perfectly to illustrate, and the many challenges that we will be launching against this monstrous injustice. Watch this

space. This is a can of worms that hasn't yet been opened properly, but we're getting there. Shell and their Government lackeys know that

very well which is why they've instructed our Guardians of Peace to turn Erris into a very abnormal area indeed, where human and civil

rights, the Law, and the personal safety of protestors are all victims of an attempt to sustain the greatest act of treachery this country has

ever seen, namely the giveaway of our wealth at a time when it will be most needed.

author by katiem - nonepublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 00:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have been a constant visitor to this site for the past two years at least, and have posted various comments, some have remained, some have not. I am pro gas, I am not ashamed to admit, although I will agree that the jailing of the men of Rossport was a gross injustice. A sample of the attitude of a multi-national corporation not recognizing the intensity of feeling at ground level. However, in my opinion, the initial grounds for concern have all been addressed. Again, this is only my opinion, and I am no expert in this area.
From the point of view of a Belmullet local, and I know I am not at the coalface, I don't understand why this protest is ongoing. The issue of the Government giveaway is a dead duck, nothing can be done about it at this point, I understand. All of the safety issues have been dealt with by the Advantica report. All planning permissions have been granted. What other grounds remain?
There are so many conflicting opinions on the subjects of water pollution etc. that I'm sure the average person does not know which side to believe.
At this stage of the protest, I'm sure it is not easy to give any ground, but is there not any way that Shell to Sea could reach some kind of compromise with Shell, given that Shell do not seem willing to consider the option of refining at sea?
This whole project has divided the local community, which is a great shame, and Shell are to blame for much of this discord, by their assumption that they could walk over the bog trotters of the west.
While I think their whole attitude to the area was wrong from day one, I still think the project will benefit the area as a whole.
I do not wish to insult any of the the Shell to Sea supporters, this is only my personal opinion. I have no connection to Shell in any way. I do not work for them, nor do any of my family, and I have no financial gain from then in any way. This is just my own personal opinion on the gas coming ashore, and the benefits, if only small and short term, that we might gain. In an area where employment is so scarce, I think it is harsh to condemn those who take up employment where they can get it close to home. At the end of the day, even though we might all like to adopt the high moral ground, economics win the day. It might not be the noble thing to do, but if you have a family, then economic considerations have to be the main concern.
I have rambled enough. We will never all be in agreement about this project, and I have only expressed my personal opinion for what it is worth.

author by rustispublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 08:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

why should s2s back down and as you say COMPROMISE in other words stand back and let shell cause more deaths (fact not fiction) Have all the safety issues been dealt with?Shell can do this properly at sea as they have done everywhere else why use the people of erris as guinea pigs,ok the waters are maybe a bit rough but surely it would be safer than having people living around a highly dangerous pipeline with no idea if there was a problem or not.Can you smell RAW GAS because i certainly can not,would you live there?So no s2s should not COMPROMISE

author by Bellmulletpublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 13:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The issue of the Government giveaway is a dead duck, nothing can be done about it at this point, I understand."

Far from it. Although the people in the oil and gas industry who can't believe their luck, will tell you that is was all in the past and there's nothing you can do, there are future licenses to award, and lots of oil and gas still out there. As a nation we have too get the best deal we can. Climate change makes it imperative that we change over to renewable, non carbon-based energy sources, and this changeover will be expensive. Why should we be subsidising Shell to explore for more fossil fuels when we won't benefit from them?

There are interesting things happening in regard to renegotiating licences from the past, in both North and South America. And look what happened to Shell in Russia? People said the giveawy of Sakhalin II was a dead duck, now the state gas company owns a controlling share in it.

"All of the safety issues have been dealt with by the Advantica report. All planning permissions have been granted. What other grounds remain?"

I doubt you've read the Advantica report, which expplicity said that it could not deal with all the issues. As for planning permissions, do you know the route for the new pipeline? No? Well then neither does An Bord Pleanala.

Related Link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=jR-A4QFHZBA&feature=related
author by Niallpublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To Katiem,

Shell to Hell would be best.

Shell to Sea is the compromise ...

... pursuant to the recommendations of Kevin Moore, Senior Inspector with An Bord Pleanala who said as follows:

"From a strategic planning perspective, this is the wrong site; from the perspective of Government policy which seeks to foster balanced regional development, this is the wrong site; from the perspective of minimising environmental impact, this is the wrong site; and consequently, from the perspective of sustainable development, this is the wrong site. At a time when the Board is now required, in accordance with the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 2000, to have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of an area in which a development is proposed to be constructed, it is my submission that the proposed development of a large gas processing terminal at this rural, scenic, and unserviced area on a bogland hill some 8 kilometres inland from the Mayo coastland landfall location, with all its site development works difficulties, public safety concerns, adverse visual, ecological, and traffic impacts, and a range of other significant environmental impacts, defies any rational understanding of the term “sustainability”.

I find it difficult to move away from a now informed opinion that the choice of the preferred option [ie. Land-based processing plant] is primarily based upon the cost difference between it and other offshore options such as the shallow water fixed steel jacket option rather than the environmental or technical constraints. In my opinion, the development of a shallow water fixed steel jacket option appears a better option from an environmental perspective, based upon the developer's own assessment criteria. It allows the developer to utilise proven technology to exploit the gas resource, to process gas offshore, in waters less hostile than the other offshore options. In utilising this ''proven technology'' (as accepted by the applicant) there should be no reason to suggest that there would be any significant adverse effects on the marine environment nor should there be any reason to believe that discharges and potential spillages would be any less stringently controlled".

author by martinpublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 18:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shell to sea complicit in deaths in the republic of Ireland? Please elaborate on this.

Comparing Russia to Ireland, come on compare apples and oranges.

author by MacEpublication date Wed Feb 27, 2008 18:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That would be the Shell to Sea cannibals (see link). Do the police beat people up in Russia? Are there corrupt politicians in Russia? Sounds like a home from home.

Related Link: http://www.village.ie/Media/Newspapers/Newspaper_coverage_of_the_Shell_to_Sea_Prostest/
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