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Shell to Sea still fighting for Irish Gas as Special Branch put on the pressure.
crime and justice |
Thursday March 27, 2008 22:25 by SJ
Garda Special Branch pressure on Shell to Sea in Dublin, and attempts to harass supporters of the campaign , are seen as part of a pattern of the police protecting the interests of big business before the rights of people to protest.
Special Branch caught photographing Shell to Sea at a recent garage protest
Dublin March 2008
Shell to Sea campaigners in Dublin say they intend to continue their stance against the multinational's activities in Mayo, despite recent measures taken by Garda Special Branch to monitor their activities and deter them from protesting against the corporate giant.
While instances of Garda harassment and intimidation in the Kilcommon area of Erris, north west Mayo are well known, recent months have seen an increase in Special Branch activity in Dublin.
Activists from around the city come together on a regular basis to picket outside Shell and Statoil service stations, to leaflet, and do other activities to raise public awareness concerning the Corrib gas issue. Just before Christmas a number of Shell to Sea protesters managed to get on to the roof of the Department of Natural Resources,where they revealed a banner saying "Protest Ireland's Natural Resources".
Special Branch presence has been seen on many of these small-scale peaceful protests, with particular focus on a Shell station in the north of the city, near the Glasnevin cemetery, a place of notable significance to the history of the country's political and revolutionary movements through time.
Although minimal intimidation has occurred at these pickets, with protesters sometimes being photographed, and occasionally threatened with arrest, many supporters of Shell to Sea maintain that they are being personally targeted in their daily lives, away from the eyes of the public.
One Shell to Sea activist told of officers in plainclothes arriving at his parent's house and questioning them about his activities within the campaign. The same officers who identified themselves at that time, were later seen monitoring him from a distance outside his own home.
Two other people were forcibly detained by Special Branch officers recently. The two supporters of Shell to Sea were walking down a busy laneway in the south inner city two weeks ago when an unmarked vehicle accelerated in front of them, and two individuals in civilian clothes (who said they were gardaí, but did not show warrant cards or ID) forced them into the car and brought them to the local station, where they were subjected to physical abuse and harassment in an attempt by the officers to uncover information.
One young man was grabbed by his hair for photographic identification. Later his solicitor was told that he had been released, when that was not the case. This occured not long after they taken part in a picket of a Shell station.
Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil have decided to change the names of their service stations to Topaz in the 26 counties in the upcoming months in what they deem to be a more localised and consumer-based approach to Irish market. Industry insiders say that this is merely an attempt at diverting the Irish public away from the reality of Shell and Statoil's activities in the west coast of Ireland, since all the fuel in the petrol stations will be still be sourced from those companies.
Shell to Sea wants to get Shell to process the Corrib gas safely, and get the government to secure a stake in their own resources for the people of Ireland. Why these aims are deemed worthy of such heavy Garda attention is a mystery.
When contacted, no members of An Garda Siochana would give a statement on this issue.
Shell to Sea say intend to picket the newly named Topaz stations in the same way as Shell and Statoil stations before. There is to be another picket of the Glasnevin Shell station on Saturday the 29th of March at midday.