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Court Report from Mayo

category mayo | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Monday February 15, 2010 12:07author by Shelver - Rossport Solidarity Camp Report this post to the editors

Pat O’Donnell jailed as Shell Prepare for Extensive work in Broadhaven Bay

featured image
Are you sure the right person was sent to jail?

Yesterday in Castlebar circuit court, appeals involving Shell to Sea campaigners were concluded or deferred, with no further prison sentences being handed out. This follows the jailing on Wednesday of local fisherman Pat O’Donnell, who was sentenced to 7 months in jail for convictions of “breach of the peace” and of "obstructing a Garda".

In total 21 people appeared before Mayo courts this week in relation to protests against the Corrib Gas Project. On Wednesday all fourteen campaigners who appeared before Belmullet district court had their cases adjourned until the special Shell to Sea sitting scheduled for March. From Tuesday to Thursday seven campaigners were involved in appeal cases before Judge Raymond Groarke in Castlebar Circuit Court.

Commenting on the jailing of Pat O’Donnell, Terence Conway stated “Once again the jailing of Pat O’Donnell shows selective prosecution on behalf of the Gardaí. Pat O’ Donnell was picked out of a crowd of 60 people. The sentences are totally disproportionate to any alleged law-breaking and seem to be a punishment for opposing the Governments' facilitation of Shell”

The co-accused had their jail sentences successfully repealed. Gary Bohan instead recieved a €200 fine and Martin McDonnell recieved a 4 month jail sentence, suspended for 2 years with a bond to keep the peace. From the same event Tony King and Kevin Moran both had fines of €700 reduced to €500.

Terence Conway - who had faced a driving ban of four years for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident – was acquitted. Commenting on his vindication he said: “I am happy with the outcome of this case. It is clear that I have been selectively targeted by the Gardaí for my opposition to the Corrib Gas Project. My thoughts are with Pat O’ Donnell for whom justice has been denied”.

On 11th June 2009, Pat O'Donnell's boat was sunk by 4 armed and masked men in Broadhaven Bay. Later that month both Pat O'Donnell and his son Jonathan were arrested in Broadhaven Bay just prior to the arrival of Shell's pipe-laying vessel, the Solitaire. Both fishermen's boats were impounded, yet no charges were brought against Pat and charges were later dropped against Jonathan. Almost identical arrests occurred in 2008 again just prior to the Solitaire's arrival.

Story of the sinking of the Chief’s boat: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92657

Mr Conway continued “Pat O'Donnell has been a constant thorn in Shell's side as he has refused to be bought off, and has upheld his legal and traditional right to fish in Broadhaven Bay. Now, as Shell prepare to occupy Broadhaven Bay in the coming months for further pipeline work, Pat O Donnell is conveniently stuck in jail”

Maura Harrington had faced 19 months imprisonment for district court convictions. Yesterday, a conviction of assault on a Shell security guard was dropped. The penalty for an obstruction conviction was reduced from a custodial sentence to a 2 year driving disqualification. Dangerous driving convictions were reduced to careless driving, resulting in a 6 month disqualification. Curiously, sentencing for convictions of trespass and cutting of nets were put off for 12 months.

Niall Harnett successfully appealed a conviction of obstruction. A conviction of assault on a Garda was upheld resulting in a sentence of 4 months imprisonment being reduced to 240 hours community service.

Commenting after court Maura Harrington said: “In November last year An Bord Pleanála vindicated our campaign by rejecting Shell’s planned onshore pipeline, and the legality of any installation above the high water mark at Glengad is questionable. We will continue our campaign for the protection of our communities and the country’s natural resources.”

To send letters of support to the Chief write to:
Pat O’Donnell,
Castlerea Prison,
Harristown,
Castlerea,
Co. Roscommon.

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com

Leaving castlebar Garda barracks
Leaving castlebar Garda barracks

Unjustly sent to Castlerea for 7 months
Unjustly sent to Castlerea for 7 months

author by paul o toolepublication date Fri Feb 12, 2010 16:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This small country is being hi-jacked by wealthy elitist savages who have absolutely no regard for the well being of the general public which is painfully obvious. And those who care for more than their fair share than most, and those who happen to find themselves in the path of what the Government calls 'progress' by way of hapening to live in a home which proves inconvienient to those subjucated in power and their co-orporate bosses suffer the brunt of this brute greed and ignorance.
And the cops wallow in overtime pay whilst upholding the wishes of Shell....
Proud to be Irish.....No more.....

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri Feb 12, 2010 18:51author email libertypics at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

.

Pat O'Donnell at a recent ShelltoSea press conference in Dublin.  © Michael Gallagher 2009
Pat O'Donnell at a recent ShelltoSea press conference in Dublin. © Michael Gallagher 2009

author by eco joepublication date Fri Feb 12, 2010 18:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Footage of Pat expressing his concerns about the threat of violence he might face before his boat was sunk, (Garda have stopped investigating)

"Am I going to meet them with balaclavas like Willie Corduff meet his attackers"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmlMw9w826U

author by .publication date Fri Feb 12, 2010 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What I think that is needed now is for everybody concered with carrying on the fight to take these setbacks in, allow some time for reflection, look at the scope for reorganising within and outside of Mayo, with the option of galvanising again all the anti-shell support, and laying the foundations for a coming together of all those forces, in a co-ordinated and diciplined way, to finally see, that with the right leadership and democratically organised resistance, that these setbacks (and that's what they are - not a defeat) can be taken on the chin and reversed. Their is still a long way to go in this fight. Vision is needed now, not negativity, finger pointing and blame gaming at the campaigners. The only 'outsiders' in this are Shell and their imported henchmen of I-RMS.

Well done to all, past and present in the continued fight.

author by observerpublication date Fri Feb 12, 2010 21:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the Paul William's film on TV3, Shell to Sea members were variously referred to as paramilitaries of all shades - IRA, INLA etc., etc., as well as being referred to as facists and supported by anarchists, eco warriors and eirigi. The number of appeals which were upheld or substantially minimised was ignored in the statemant at the end of the film. What about both sides now ?
That is the media.

Yesterday in Court even if there was not a bacaclava to be seen, they were called thugs and bullies, secret police, vigilantes...That is the Judiciary.

Yet there was one retired teacher, one fisherman, a sheep farmer and three partime other farmers all living in responsible caring situations to growing children, aged parents. neighbours and family members in need of extra help. Only one in his forties and all the others in their fifties and all with local addresses.. The Judge arrogantly remarked on their lack of sense. One does not parent, farm, fish, teach, organise and show a readiness to be as committed as George Lee in the same week without a lot of sense. It is not a lack of sense to say NO in a democracy - it is a right.

The greatest quality of a democracy is to hear the NO and its conditionalities and to resolve it as An Bord Pleanala has belatedly begun to do. Not to punish and beat and arrest. Indeed the beating had priority until the injustice of non-arrest was circulated widely in recent times. That is the Gardai.

Shell has many servants in the abuse of democracy by the State.

author by A McCabepublication date Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That puppet Judge laid it on a little too thick for anyone but Shell minions to believe. Hats off to Pat and all those who struggle to keep their community clean.

author by Puzzledpublication date Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Comments here do not cease to puzzle me. Shell to Sea is alive and well - what with 14 persons before the District Court in Belmullet and 7 persons before the Circuit Court in Castlebar all on the same days in one week and so differnt people from the area. There are Shell to Sea Weeks of Hearings a regular feature of the Court calendar and there are cases in the High Court as well. Some of the cases serve to show up the minimal content on the charge sheet. Should they be taking up expensive legal time where a caution might very well do.
The State through the judiciiary is kept in full time engagement with Shell ro Sea. No damage has so far been quantified in recent cases and the cutting of a net case had its sentence put back for a year. In Court Gardai claim up to sixty protestors at events and claim a remarkable fear of protestors before the judge - for people supposedly trained for such community scenarios - and a cavalcade of 86 cars in a local area scarcely populated. Local and national media have been fully engaged with Shell to Sea this past week and was a fair rival to the George Lee story. Other members of the community - six of them were in Leinster House with complaints of interference in the planning process were recieved by two Ministers. Others are busy on preparing submissions aganist a Forshore Licence being applied for by Shell. Surely if other people are convinced that Shell to Sea needs help, get cracking. The activists in Erris are very busy and successful as the pipe has had to be moved twice with another move pending.

author by V for vendettapublication date Sat Feb 13, 2010 14:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kudos to all the brave and true people in the shell to sea campaign. In the recent economic disaster and political abandonment of the poor and weak in our society on favour of bailing out the rich elites and burdening the next generations with the bill, The only thing I see that makes me proud to be Irish these days is the incorruptible and steely determined efforts of those in the shell to sea campaign in spite of the whole weight of shell, the media and the judiciary bearing down on them. Lets all help and support them in any way we can.

author by NIFC - National Irish Freedom Committeepublication date Sun Feb 14, 2010 02:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

NIFC in America has produced a great amount of information in support of the entire Shell to Sea campaign, pickets, flyers, pamphlets, videos, radio appearances, artwork, and even cartoons.

There are new Shell to Sea Videos are available on the website. This is the second time NIFC activists have come to Mayo the assistance of the people directly involved in this ongoing issue in county Mayo. A few years ago a number of others videos were produced by the NIFC on location. Recently another solidarity visit was made and the result is three new videos that have been made to allow those involved, whom the mainstream media largely ignore, to get their message out.

The Corrib gas project entails exploiting a natural gas deposit off the northwest coast of Ireland. The field is located about 80 km off Erris Head in County Mayo, in water depths of 355 meters. The natural gas field, discovered in 1996, was the first reported commercial natural gas discovery in Ireland since the Kinsale Head gas field in 1973.

Video 1 features Maura Harrington, while video 2 has Willie and Mary Coduff with video 3 in the new series closing with local fisherman Pat O'Donnell. You can find these videos at www.irishfreedom.net and more info on the situation at shelltosea.org.

http://irishfreedom.net/Misc.%20news%20items/Shelltosea...n.htm

Cumann Na Saoirse Náısıúnta
National Irish Freedom Committee

Related Link: http://www.irishfreedom.net
author by Enraged - Variouspublication date Mon Feb 15, 2010 18:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A travesty of justice took place in Castlebar Court last week. Judge
Groarke disgraced himself by his outrageous attacks on Pat O
Donnell and Maura Harrington. He should immediately step down.

author by Justice??!!publication date Mon Feb 15, 2010 19:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Judge Raymond Groarkes vicious personal attack on Pat O Donnell in a Mayo court last week is a serious matter and was thoroughly reprehensible. One cannot but be reminded of the fact that judges are political appointees. The judges function should have been to decide whether or not a law or laws had been broken.

I am filled with admiration for our wonderful heroes Pat O Donnell and Maura Harrington who show utter selflessness and remarkable tenacity in continuing to resist Shells tyranny. Sadly Shell are aided and abetted in every way by our oh so corrupt politicians and our judiciary.

author by the realistpublication date Wed Feb 17, 2010 22:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is quite clear that all persons who were in court this week were at all times aware of the possibility of custodial sentences as a result of breaching the criminal law of the land. It is not sufficient to go to court and proffer an excuse of either ignorance of the law or that of a greater good and expect leniency.

There is no country with perfect laws and living conditions unless More's Utopia exists and is a secret so until there is we have to make do with what laws and practices we have. The laws are there to protect people and it is the job of the police to enforce them. By and large we all try to observe the laws and steer free of trouble and we frown somewhat on transgressors. This is what happens in civilized society and I for one am happy to be a part of it even though it is far from perfect. So I say to the people whining about the consequences of court proceedings that you have a choice either join in society and play by the rules of the day or else live with the consequences and accept them without pointing blame towards anybody ( unfortunately for the S2S supporteds they cant blame Mary Devins for this one )

author by Maura Harrington - S2S; Davitt Leaguepublication date Thu Feb 18, 2010 00:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors


from an old Clareman:

'Cromwell had the law on his side but that did not make his actions just'

author by Living in Rossportpublication date Fri Feb 19, 2010 02:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We're with you Pat...

http://livinginrossport.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/were-w...-pat/

author by Charliepublication date Fri Feb 26, 2010 04:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just asking the minister by email: "Honestly Eamon, how much is Shell (Topaz) paying you for selling out Corrib Gas belonging to the Irish people?"

author by Undecidedpublication date Sun Mar 07, 2010 01:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In response to the comment by Realist:

There may not be any country with a perfect legal system, including our own. However that is not to say that we should not strive to make our system less imperfect.

Of course there have always been ´good laws´ and ´bad laws´. Some laws exist to protect people, others property, and yet others legitimate business interests. In a civilized society however, civilized people adhere to ´good laws´ and question ´bad laws´. In essence, the capacity of people to do so without fear is really a measure of a society´s level of civilization.

I do not see the relevance of a person ´whining` about court proceedings in this regard. Of course prosecutions were foreseeable on the part of those who chose their actions. And there is a right to comment on the wrongfulness of prosecution. But I have witnessed a general loss of confidence in a District Court system that is perceptibly losing credibility in its locality.

Regarding the Corrib Gas controversy I may be undecided. However, I do salute those people who presented themselves before the Courts. They, in my opinion, are taking part in society, and possibly in good faith striving to make our system less imperfect.

I wonder, Realist, if you found yourself in a less perfect country, and compelled to disobey a blatantly unjust law (let´s say, one that makes criminal free speech) would you simply accept that you do not live in Moore´s utopia and silently march to jail? Might you not oppose that unjust law and seek to inform others of the illegitimacy of that law?

Your comment below:

It is quite clear that all persons who were in court this week were at all times aware of the possibility of custodial sentences as a result of breaching the criminal law of the land. It is not sufficient to go to court and proffer an excuse of either ignorance of the law or that of a greater good and expect leniency.

There is no country with perfect laws and living conditions unless More's Utopia exists and is a secret so until there is we have to make do with what laws and practices we have. The laws are there to protect people and it is the job of the police to enforce them. By and large we all try to observe the laws and steer free of trouble and we frown somewhat on transgressors. This is what happens in civilized society and I for one am happy to be a part of it even though it is far from perfect. So I say to the people whining about the consequences of court proceedings that you have a choice either join in society and play by the rules of the day or else live with the consequences and accept them without pointing blame towards anybody ( unfortunately for the S2S supporteds they cant blame Mary Devins for this one )

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