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Court Report - Maura Harrington jailed 4th time this year

category mayo | crime and justice | news report author Thursday September 10, 2009 14:38author by Rudiger Report this post to the editors

Yesterday in Belmullet District court, Maura Harrington was jailed for the fourth time this year over her opposition to Shell's plans in Mayo. Judge Mary Devins sentenced Ms Harrington to 3 months in jail for assaulting an employee of IRMS, and 3 months for trespassing in a farmyard close to the landfall site in Glengad on June 19 2008. Ms Harrington was also fined a total of €1000. This incident occurred shortly after Shell began drafting in security into the area and they had begun filming people in the locality (it hadn't been discovered these were working for IRMS at that stage).

Yesterday, marked one year to the day that Maura Harrington began her hungerstrike which lasted 11 days until the Solitaire left Irish waters.
Criminalising a Community
Criminalising a Community

Before jailing Ms Harrington, Judge Devins said that she would adjourn sentencing until a later date if Ms Harrington was give an undertaking that she not interfere with Shell or its agents.

Ms Harrington's solicitor Alan Gannon stated that Ms Harrington had “no difficulty being of good behaviour but she has no confidence in Shell and she will not give any undertaking in respect of them. She doesn’t want a corporation like Shell to have any power over her”.

A brief description of the defense side of the case can be read here http://www.indymedia.ie/article/91879

Maura Harrington's son Iollain was up on charges relating to Christmas day 07 at Bellanaboy however rather mysteriously the Gardaí ended up withdrawing the charges although the case had been heard months previously but had been adjourned to look into a legal point that had been raised. Before taking a brief recess, after which the Gardaí dropped the charges, Judge Devins suggested that possibly another judge could deal with the matter. This in spite of the fact that she had already heard the evidence. There seemed agreement among the assembled Shell to Sea supporters that the most likely reason for dropping the charges was that convicting a mother and son on the same day would look bad.

Other than that most other cases were just up for mention however there was a suspicious whiff of political maneuvering behind the scenes with a few of the cases.
The case of Jonathan O'Donnell, who was arrested for “loitering”on his fishing boat in Broadhaven Bay hours before the Solitaire entered, was up for mention. Prosecuting officer Inspector Doherty sought more time to discuss the case with the DPP as they weren't in a position to give their view on the case as of yet. Insp. Doherty eventually came up with the excuse that there might be more future charges, in seeking more time and so the case was adjourned to 22nd Sept in Ballina.

In another case where Niall Harnett is attempting to prosecute Superintendent Michael Larkin and Sgt. Gus Moran for false imprisonment and breach of the peace. In relation to the false imprisonment charges after the brief details of the case were outlined by Niall Harnett, Judge Devins refused jurisdiction over the case due to the unusual circumstances. Judge Devins then struck out these charges against the 2 Gardaí saying that a new judgment [Reade -v- District Judge Reilly & DPP on 31/07/09] prevented her from forwarding the case to a higher court. Regarding the breach of the peace charges she set the hearing date for the 13th November saying that it would be better heard in a different court and better if a judge not involved in Mayo heard it. Why judges involved in Mayo shouldn't hear cases involving the prosecution of Gardaí but should hear cases that Gardaí prosecute wasn't specified.

One other case that was slightly strange was a common law charge which has been brought against Niall Harnett. Even Judge Devins declared that she had “never seen a charge like that in my life” and wondered why the Gardaí had chosen that a common law charge when alleged breach would seem to have be dealt with in statute (ie. such as the Public Order Act).
The Gardaí once again claimed they were waiting for more information from the DPP and even though Niall Harnett sought to have the charges struck out because of the delay, Judge Devins refused this and adjourned the case until the 7th of December.
Other cases up related to kayaking in Broadhaven Bay and they were all adjourned for hearing until the 28th September which is a special Shell to Sea sitting.

On the previous day's court in Ballina, Maura Harrington was banned for 2 years relating to a dangerous driving charge which involved an IRMS minibus. Read the background of this case here: http://www.advertiser.ie/mayo/article/11651

One thing I thought from the whole days proceedings, is that the judiciary seemed to have got their act together a bit more on how to deal with Shell to Sea protestors. It seems that Judge Devins and others have decided to spread out the cases so that it won't be just one judge dealing with cases anymore. This has been evidenced for the last few months with rotating judges appearing at Belmullet. There will be special Shell to Sea sittings starting on the 28th of September and also on the 7th of December. It seems they already have assigned the judges for these siting dates and it seemed that both the Judge and Gardaí knew how all the cases would slot in. The Phoneix magazine has been writing for a while about how what the judiciary fear most is the imposition of a judicial ombudsman and it is only to be expected that when Judge Devins was coming under considerable heat for her decisions that it would the decided that the load would be spread.

Other News

Over the last 2 weeks, Shell have removed the fencing on Glengad beach and have been removing some of the equipment from the Glengad compound. However over the last few weeks their has been a number of spills relating to the Shell works.
These include:
- On the 30th July approximately 20 liters of the chemical mixture containing Roemex RX-9022 and SICOR 2007 spilled into the enclosed landfall trench.
- On the 16th August, a Shell hired vessel the 'Flamingo' ran aground in Broadhaven Bay and fuel flowed into the sea.
- On the 23rd August during operation of the RT-1 pipeline Trenching machine, 13 litres of hydraulic oil was lost in approximately 70 metres depth of water at the boundary of the offshore SAC
- On the 24th August, petrol was spilled into the sea during refuelling of a security RIB at a mooring in Ballyglass pier. The fuelling hose within the RIB became detached towards the end of the fuelling process causing fuel to spill onto the enclosed deck.

Still the ecologist employed by the Dept of Energy & Natural Resources to monitor the works don't have any problems saying that “All works undertaken with the on-shore site and near shore area appear in full compliance with the EMP”

It might be worth the local fisherman's organisation (EIFA) taking note that US EPA recently fined Shell for illegally discharging pollutants out of an outflow pipe.
On announcing the fine the US EPA stated that
“Shell’s alleged failure to properly maintain the diffuser pipeline is not an isolated incident; the most recent penalty is in addition to a penalty of $1,025,000 Shell paid in May for similar violations. “

EIFA have received assurances from Shell that only treated rain water and such will be put out through outflow pipe and that the Shell will get rid of (most) of their produced water (water & other chemical that come with the gas) through 2 small cores in the umbilical cable and diffuse it at the well heads. However these 2 small water cores only have 19mm and 25.4mm diameters and so won't be able to get rid of all the produced water. Shell are saying that the remaining produced water will be removed by tanker and disposed of else where.

Finally, Shell were also recently found guilty of contempt of a District Court Order by Judge Devins in proceedings taken by Monica Muller. The company was found by the judge to have entered Rossport commonage despite having been prohibited from doing so by a 2007 court order. Sentencing is to take place on 17 September at Westport District Court.

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com
author by Watcherpublication date Thu Sep 10, 2009 16:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done and thank you for a very comprehensive report.

Does anyone know if news of Maura's latest incarceration was carried by RTE ?

author by Damienpublication date Thu Sep 10, 2009 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I caught the end of the story on Today FM news on the way to the Joy yesterday, RTE have had a blanket ban on it for months, the only thing they covered was the ship/boat leakin' oil there last month. Ive been in contact with several people at RTE and they have replied however, amazingly they said they have given it plenty of coverage! The head, Eoin Ryan seemed quite embarrassed at one stage and said he would forward my emails to the news crew. So maybe with a bit more pressure...

author by Rudigerpublication date Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to let people know that Maura was released yesterday from Mountjoy pending her appeal. Surety had to be offered at Achill District court for her appeal before she was released.

author by Damienpublication date Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Where do/did you hear this?

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