Last night and this morning, Shell were blocked from accessing their newly created compound in Aughoose for 16 hours after a protester locked on underneath an IRMS security van that was blocking the entrance. Members of the local community and Rossport Solidarity Camp kept vigil throughout the night, worried that IRMS might try to use similar violence to the night that Willie Corduff was beaten up while under a lorry at the Glengad compound in 2009.
In an effort to intimidate campaigners at around 7am about another 40 private security men from the firm IRMS joined the 30 already present and in the presence of former army Ranger Jim Farrell and manager of the firm violently attacked supporters. Jim Farrell personally assaulted a number of protesters but with his close relations with Gardaí in the area (he also employs former Westport Superintendent Pat Doyle) he seems to act with impunity with regard to any law in dealing with protesters.
At around 8am, Gardaí arrived with cutting equipment led by Supt. Patrick Diskin of Belmullet Garda Station. However orders on the ground seem to be coming from Sgt. James Gill who has a long and troubled past in dealing with Corrib protesters. Indeed the day before a court case was due to be heard in Ballina Circuit court, where Sgt. Gill is alleging that he was slandered on the road at the Bellanaboy protests in October 2006 by prominent campaigner Pat O'Donnell. This court case was adjourned after the Judge Raymond Groarke recused himself from hearing the case, but how is it to be believed that Sgt. Gill could then come and deal with Corrib protesters in a fair manner? It is worth nothing that the time of the alleged slander in late 2006 was also the time when the most wide scale of the Garda violence against Corrib campaigners occurred. It is also worth noting that Sgt Gill's brother scaffolding firm AGS has worked on Corrib and also that Sgt Gill sits on the Corrib Project Monitoring Committee with Shell. (At the Ballina Circuit Court sitting Maura Harrington was also due for sentencing for cases relating to protests in 2008 & 2009, however the Judge chose to suspend the sentences issued by the District court)
In the Frontline Human Rights report one of the recommendations that they make is “that Gardaí who have been involved for long periods in policing work on the Corrib gas dispute be deployed o other duties, such as community policing”. However the Gardaí have refused to carry out this recommendation and a lot of the incidents of violence seem to be carried out by the same few Gardaí.
This morning as the Gardaí cleared the area around the security van, one protester climbed up on his own van with a video camera in order to film the Garda cutting team. However under instruction from Sgt Gill, the protestor had his hands handcuffed behind his back on top of the van and was then passed down to the Gardaí below. However before his removal Garda MY129 felt the need to squeeze the protestors by the balls. Some of Garda MY129 previous violence can be seen here:
This protester was arrested but released shortly after without charge.
When the Garda cutting team commenced trying to remove the protester, they initially attempted to cut the bicycle D-lock that was around her neck. However they failed and instead resorted to cutting the exhaust pipe of the security van around which the D-lock was. The cutting procedure was carried out by Garda Hugh Egan who also has a long and checkered past in dealing with Corrib protesters and during the cutting procedure he caused needless pain to the person under the van. After being cut out the protester was arrested but also released without charge after about 20 minutes.
Overall it was a very successful action and shows that despite large security numbers backed up by some Gardaí, strategic and planned actions can cause significant delays to Shell.
If your wondering why you should get involved read a recent article by William Callaghan of Dublin Shell to Sea entitled "Corrib struggle is about what kind of Ireland we want": http://www.shelltosea.com/content/corrib-struggle-about...-want
We are also asking campaigners from around the country to come up straight away or join us for the Days of Action this Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd April. Accommodation & food provided, donations welcome. email email@example.com or text 0851141170 for details.