Information from written Dáil answer proves An Garda Síochána treats Shell better than the citizens of Ireland
A written reply to a Dáil question by Aengus Ó Snodaigh by justice minister Dermot Ahern shows that Garda personnel strength in a large majority of Irish counties is less than the number of Gardai deployed in Erris to protect Shell's interests. For example, Shell has more cops than Co. Clare, Co. Kerry, or Co Sligo. Shell also has more cops defending its corrupt Corrib Gas Project than there are Gardai 'defending' the citizens of Galway, Waterford or Dún Laoghaire.
On the 9th of June 2009, justice minister Dermot Ahern gave a written reply to Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh outlining the current personnel strength of An Garda Síochána by Garda district. From this comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date statement of Garda numbers it is possible to construct reliable estimates of Garda personnel strength by county, and for many of the cities in the Republic of Ireland.
According to the minister's written answer, there are 29 Gardai deployed in the Belmullet Garda district, the district that includes all the area directly affected by the Corrib Gas Project. There is little or no reported crime in this district other than the 'crime' of protesting against Shell's destruction of the local community and environment and the Great /gas Robbery. Therefore, one can reasonably assume that all the Gardai stationed in this district are on Shell duty. To this one can easily add another estimated minimum of 21 Gardai from adjacent Garda divisions that are regularly deployed in Erris to police the ongoing protests against Shell's project works. Then, if one includes the widely-reported 300 (admitted minimum) Gardai drafted in to protect the current phase of the project works in Glengad, then one can say with certainty that there is a conservative minimum of 350 Gardai in Erris defending Shell's interests this week. For the purposes of brevity, we will refer to Shell's Garda personnel strength as 'Co. Shell' in the table below and elsewhere in the article, and we will only give the counties, Garda divisions and districts where the current garda force strength is less than that currently deployed in Co. Shell.
County/City/Garda district Garda numbers Co. Shell
Co. Carlow 127 350
Co. Cavan 197 350
Co. Clare 335 350
Co. Kerry 346 350
Co. Kildare 284 350
Co. Kilkenny 171 350
Co. Laois 188 350
Co. Leitrim 102 350
Co. Longford 115 350
Co. Louth 302 350
Co. Mayo 322 350
Co. Meath 311 350
Co. Monaghan 225 350
Co. Offaly 149 350
Co. Roscommon 182 350
Co. Waterford 297 350
Co. Westmeath 243 350
Co. Wexford 284 350
Co. Wicklow 349 350
Cork North Garda Div. 307 350
Cork West Garda Div. 309 350
Dun Laoghaire 275 350
Galway City & Salthill 331 350
Waterford City & Tramore 234 350
It would also be a useful to see how the total given by the minister in his written answer compares to the claimed personnel strength (sworn members) of An Garda Síochána in its annual report of 2008, and also with the projected total Garda personnel strength for end 2009 given in a statement by the justice minister to Dáil Éireann on April 22 this year.
1.Garda numbers total from written answer – 12309
2.Garda numbers from 2008 annual report – 14411
3.Projected Garda numbers from minister's statement – 14900
The difference between figure 1 and those in figures 2 and 3 can be explained by figure 1 being the current operational strength of the force on June 9th of this year and the other two figures being the total strength of the force including those on various types of leave and those suspended from duty etc. In any case it can readily be seen that the Garda deployment to Co. Shell is a non-trivial proportion of either the current operational strength of the force or total Garda numbers.
1.Co. Shell Garda deployment as percentage of figure 1 – 2.84%
2.Co. Shell Garda deployment as percentage of figure 2 – 2.43%
3.Co. Shell Garda deployment as percentage of figure 3 – 2.34%
These conservative figures would suggest that something close to one in every forty of all Gardai in the state are on Shell duty here in Erris. The percentage yielded by figure 1 indicates that close to one in every thirty-five Gardai currently operationally active in the state are here protecting Shell's interests.
It is worth repeating again that the estimate of the Co. Shell Garda deployment is on the low side, based on conservative local estimates of the deployment in Erris and the figure given widely in the mainstream media for the extra Garda deployment in Co. Shell for this period. The true figure, overall percentage and proportion could be much higher, and this figure may never be revealed to the public. This also doesn't include the 85 Irish naval service personnel deployed here on fully one-quarter of the navy's flotilla.
This disproportionate response to local protest and the Shell to Sea effort to stop the pipe-laying works in Broadhaven Bay starkly illustrates the skewed priorities of the Irish state and its security apparatus. For the state to deploy more Gardai in the protection of an oil multinational's interests than it is prepared to deploy in most Irish counties (and some of its cities) to 'protect' the citizenry shows how little the powers-that-be care for the safety of citizens and how much they care for the interests of rapacious and murderous energy corporations like Shell.
Garda annual report for 2008
The justice minister's written answer to Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Irish Times report of the justice minister's statement to the Dáil on projected Garda numbers for end 2009