I am before this Court today on charges under Sections 8&9 of the Public Order Act and Section 53 of the Road Traffic Act alleged on 01 August and 03 August 2012. I request that the court direct that a nolle prosequi be entered in this instance or, failing that, that the hearing of the allegations against me be deferred until such time as an independent, international panel/commission has issued a report on the policing of the Shell/Corrib project with specific reference to practices, policies, procedures, human rights, bribery, corruption and collusion.
Spokespeople Maura Harrington and Terence Conway, who said the â€œreal criminalsâ€ were Shell and numerous gardaÃ, are among those due to appear.
EIGHT SHELL TO Sea campaigners are due to appear in Belmullet District Court today, charged in relation to a number of offences during protests against the Corrib Gas Project.
Both Shell to Sea spokespeople Maura Harrington and Terence Conway are among those due to appear in court, as well as Pobail Chill Chomain spokesperson John Monaghan.
Gerry Bourke, the farmer who has provided the field for the Rossport Solidarity Camp for the last two years, is also one of the eight.
The protesters are due in court over a range of public order offences with a number of them also charged with criminal damage.
In a statement today Harrington referenced recent allegations that Shell supplied alcohol bribes to gardaÃ at Belmullet:
We no longer believe we can have equality before the law until such time as an independent, international panel/commission has investigated the policing of the Shell/Corrib project with specific reference to policies, practices, procedures, bribery, corruption and collusion.
Conway stated that the â€œreal criminals are Shell and numerous members of the gardaÃ, acting with full approval of senior garda management.â€
The eight activists will appear at Belmullet District Court at 10.30 this morning.
MAURA HARRINGTON STATEMENT GIVEN TO THE COURT
1.0 Reason for being before Belmullet District Court 11 September 2013
I am before this Court today on charges under Sections 8&9 of the Public Order Act and Section 53 of the Road Traffic Act alleged on 01 August and 03 August 2012.
2.0 Requests to the Court
I request that the court direct that a nolle prosequi be entered in this instance or, failing that, that the hearing of the allegations against me be deferred until such time as an independent, international panel/commission has issued a report on the policing of the Shell/Corrib project with specific reference to practices, policies, procedures, human rights, bribery, corruption and collusion.
3.0 Human Rights concerns in relation to Shell/Corrib Policing
Since 2007 a number of human rights organizations have expressed concern about the quality of policing affecting the protection of the right to protest. They work within the framework of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders which was adopted by General Assembly ResolutionÂ in 1998 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Â
3.1 Global Community Monitor (GCM), USA (February 2007)
Following its International Fact Finding Delegation to County Mayo, Ireland (23-27 February 2007) GCM published the following conclusions:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â The behavior (sic) of many police on various occasions implies that either they were not trained in the necessary skills needed to manage peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience actions, maintain order and protect the rights of free speech, or that they are not utilizing training if they have had it. Police undertaking their duties in terms of monitoring the protestors or protecting the site did not follow basic procedures such as displaying their identifications â€“ badge and/or names and warning protesters before taking (physical) measures.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â·Â Â Â Â Â There is evidence of excessive physical force by Gardai against peaceful protestors who were prepared to be arrested, which resulted in serious injury.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Some protestors have been prepared to be arrested in order to make a political statement within their rights of free speech, but Gardai have publicly stated and practiced a policy of refusal to arrest peaceful protestors.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â·Â Â Â Â Â There is evidence from videos of youth, women and the elderly being pushed and beaten by Gardai without provocation. Even high ranking officers were personally involved in beating up protestors.
GCM recommended that:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â The to-be-installed Ombudsman should take up the already filed complaints against Gardai behaviour (sic) and swiftly and thoroughly deal with them in order to restore confidence among the local community.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â The local and national authorities of the Irish government must immediately recognize that the situation in County Mayo could result in further serious injury to protestors, the public and members of the Gardai.Â Action should be taken to restore order and peace to the region through the intervention of neutral third parties.
http://www.gcmonitor.org/article.php?id=598 Â (Accessed 28 August 2013) The Public Hearing transcript by Court reporter is available at the bottom of the page.
3.2 Frontline Defenders, Ireland (2006-2012)
The human rights NGO Frontline Defenders initially observed Shell/Corrib policing in 2006 and, following further contacts from affected parties in 2007/8, they commissioned an independent review of the Shell/Corrib situation which culminated in the publication in 2010 of Breakdown in Trust: A Report on the Corrib Gas Dispute written by Brian Barrington BL. http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/Breakdown%20of%20Trust%20Web%20version. (Accessed 22 Aug 2013)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Then Superintendent (Joe Gannon, not named in report but then Supt.) stated they did not â€œwant to facilitate anybody down the route to martyrdom.â€ â€¦ understandable â€¦ for fear that this would escalate the conflict. But that does not mean that people should not be arrested. Further, the danger with not arresting people is that, instead, force may be unnecessarily used, particularly as frustration builds among Garda officers. Some of the footage supplied supports the view that this is what in fact happened.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Another major dispute occurred at Pollathomas pier on 11 June 2007 when the Garda SÃochÃ¡na assisted Shell agents in transporting a digger and portacabin down a lane and to a pier. However, a local resident was emphatic that he owned the lane and that Shell had no authority to go across it. Protesters gathered in support of him. The incident at the pier might have been avoided had the GardaÃ addressed the issue of ownership of the lane with protesters, but they did not. Further, the Garda in charge refused to speak to the residentâ€™s solicitor. Some other aspects of the Garda operation on the day appeared poorly conducted.
None of the reportâ€™s recommendations in relation to policing, some only of which are listed below were heeded by the state or AGS:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â It is recommended that the Garda SÃochÃ¡na appoint a trained lawyer with relevant experience as human rights adviser. It is also recommended that that adviser not only review police policies and practice generally, but also provide input into the planning of operations. Specifically in the context of the Corrib dispute, it would be helpful to provide guidance to the Garda SÃochÃ¡na on how they can best discharge their functions in an impartial way.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â It is recommended that GardaÃ who have been involved for long periods in policing work on the Corrib gas dispute be deployed to other duties, such as community policing.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â It is totally unacceptable for GardaÃ in public order work not to wear identification and it is recommended that this be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Mr Barrington wrote that â€˜The Garda SÃochÃ¡na have already entered into discussions with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties regarding mainstreaming of human rights. This would be the next step in that important workâ€™. It would appear that throughout his research Mr Barrington did not become aware, nor was he made aware, of the existence of SHRAC.
The outcome of the above convinced Frontline Defenders to place a qualified human rights observer at the Corrib Gas Project for a full six months â€“ the only recommendation from the report to be acted on, and that by the commissioning human rights NGO itself; the final report of the Corrib Human Rights Monitoring Initiative issued in November 2012 and made recommendations addressed to the Department of Justice, AGS, GSOC, I-RMS (Shellâ€™s private security force) and Shell E&P Ireland Ltd, none of which to my knowledge have been acted upon.
http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/fld_report_on_the_corrib_monitoring_initiative_-_nov_2012.pdf (Accessed 28 August 2013)
3.3 Table Observers, Ireland (2009-Present)
Table is a non-funded initiative of civil society.
Table has its origin in The Table Campaign initiated by Action from Ireland (AfrI) during the mid-Nineties. In that capacity it made its reports on parade monitoring in the North widely available and was in regular contact with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in relation to Human Rights practice on the ground. It also observed related court cases and made a contribution to the Criminal Review Board in the North.
Table Observers have attended Shell/Corrib-related court hearings from 2009 onwards and are present in court today; Table issue observation reports which have made available to, among others, the Department of Justice, AGS, the DPP and IHRC (Irish Human Rights Commission).
Table have also, together with AfrI, made submissions to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights whose visit to Ireland was facilitated by Frontline Defenders.
4.0 Submissions to UN Human Rights Committee of which Ireland is a member (2011-2013)
4.1 The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
Shell to Sea made a submission to the Twelfth Session of the Working Group on the UN Human Rights Council, 06 October 2011. Together with issues previously outlined this submission also referred to:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â In 2008, the site of the protests against Corrib switched from the refinery site in Bellanaboy to Glengad â€¦ During this period the Superintendent in charge of Belmullet Garda Station was Supt. John Gilligan and despite some notable exceptions, this period saw a lessening of the violence that was used by GardaÃ to police the protests. However it also saw the introduction of a private security force IRMS to the area, and in many situations the GardaÃ left the policing of the protests to these private security personnel.Â In 2008, Shell attempted to lay the offshore pipeline using the large pipe-laying ship, the Solitaire.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â The case of Pat & Jonathan O Donnell at sea in 2008 & 2009 â€“ The issues are the conflicting rights between the traditional fishing rights in Broadhaven Bay and the rights of Shell to lay their offshore pipeline through Broadhaven Bay.Â Pat O’Donnell and his son Jonathan had crab pots in Broadhaven Bay and refused to move them despite the Solitaire’s (Shellâ€™s contracted pipe-laying vessel) wish to lay their pipeline through the area where the O’Donnell’s crab-pots lay. The Barrington Report states â€˜there is at least real doubt as to the entitlement of Shell to move or damage Mr O’Donnell’s crab potsâ€™. Despite this doubt, what resulted was the Garda Water Unit arresting Pat and his son Jonathan on 4 occasions in their boats in both 2008 and 2009 as the Solitaire was entering Broadhaven Bay.After seeing video evidence of the arrest of Jonathan O’Donnell, human rights lecturer Vicky Conway wrote:
GardaÃÂ boarded his boat and politely asked him to remove his pots and vacate the areaâ€¦.When he refused the police stated that they were arresting him. Oâ€™Donnell asked why and was told that he was a danger to other boats in the area. In what way he was a danger was unclear, particularly as the only boat in the visible vicinity was the GardaÂ boat. Eventually Jonathan had to drop his gear, with a value of several thousand Euro, and submitted to arrest. The Solitaire was now free to lay the pipes. Itâ€™s hard not to feel that this was an instance in which the GardaÃ were exercising their coercive power without authority. It was as if their job was to ensure that the pipes got laid, Jonathan was in the way, and if an arrest in this manner did not later lead to a conviction that was irrelevant: the pipes would be laid.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (Accessed 28 August 2013)
4.2 Submission to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights DefendingÂ
Shell to Sea made a written submission to the UN Special Rapporteur prior to her official visit to Ireland noting Mrs Sekaggyaâ€™s address to the to the Human Rights Council at its 19th session March 2012 where she drew attention to â€˜defenders working on environmental and land issues…. in connectionÂ with extractive industries… a dangerous enterprise for human rights defendersâ€™. This submissionincluded a rÃ©sumÃ© of aforementioned issues and also included the issue of the â€˜Rape Tapeâ€™ incident which arose following the arrest of two female campaigners on 31 March 2011:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â The main Garda who spoke of raping the women was Sgt James Gill who had been one of the most prominent GardaÃ involved in policing Corrib protests for the previous 6 years and who sat as the Garda representative on the Corrib Project Monitoring Committee.Â James Gill subsequently retired, while the Garda Ombudsman â€˜investigationâ€™ was being carried out.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â At the time of the rape comments being made Shell to Sea held a press conference in which we called for an independent international inquiry to examine the policing of the Corrib gas protests.Â This was ignored by the authorities.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â In a 2011 libel case that Sgt James Gill took against Pat O Donnell, Sgt Gill claimed that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from a comment that he alleges Pat O’Donnell made in 2006.Â Sgt James Gill was one of the most violent GardaÃ while he served, how could he be regarded as fit for work, especially in the Kilcommon Community?
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Another disturbing incident occurred earlier this summer (2012), when one senior Garda, Sgt Dermot Butler who has also made sexually explicit remarks to campaigners, went in alone to the cell of a female campaigner after she had been arrested.
http://www.shelltosea.com/content/shell-sea-meet-un-special-rapporteur-human-rights-defenders Â (Accessed 28 August 2013)
4.3 Meeting with Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defending.
In November 2012 Mrs Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders met with a delegation of ten people to discuss the issues they face with regard to the Shell/Corrib Gas Project. The delegation comprised seven members of Shell to Sea, Kilcommon Parish Priest Fr. Michael Nallen and two members of the human rights monitoring organisation Table Observers, Sr. Majella McCarron and Donal Ã“ MearÃ¡in.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Members of the delegation raised many issues of concern including violence by the GardaÃ, behaviour of the private security, the democratic deficit in the planning process, surveillance and harassment, selectivity in the application of the law, the undermining and stigmatisation of campaigners by the judiciary, the politicisation of the judicial process and the ineffectiveness of designated oversight bodies in particular the Garda Ombudsman.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Table Observers highlighted four areas of concern emerging from their human rights observations in Co. Mayo: the State’s ambivalence towards human rights, behaviour of the police force which appears to have intimidatory or provocative intent, the behaviour of private security and the impression that court hearings are manipulated by the State for political reasons.
4.4 Report of Human Rights Defenders Special Rapporteur
On 04 March 2013 UN Special Rapporteur Mrs Margaret Sekaggya presented her report on the situation of human rights defenders following her official visit to Ireland in November 2012.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â During her visit, the Special Rapporteur expressed her concern at the situation of and challenges faced by defenders and activists defending the right to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, particularly those peacefully protesting against the Corrib Gas project in County Mayo.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â During her visit, the Special Rapporteur received credible reports and evidence, including video footage, indicating the existence of a pattern of intimidation, harassment, surveillance and criminalization of those peacefully opposing the Corrib Gas project. Protests have ranged from lawful demonstrations to non-violent non-compliance and passive resistance on both public and private grounds. The information received seemed to indicate that the policing of the protests had been, in some instances, disproportionate. Moreover, there have also been serious concerns about the lawfulness of certain actions by the private security firm employed by Shell.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â In the above connection, the Special Rapporteur expresses her concern at allegations received pointing to shortcomings in official investigations, particularly those relating to the use of excessive force and abusive behaviour by the police.
The following recommendations were made by the Special Rapporteur:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Make a greater effort to disseminate the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at the national level, including by raising awareness among public officials about the meaning of the term and the role of â€œdefendersâ€
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Consider adopting a national plan of action on human rights, which should include a section on human rights defenders
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Investigate all allegations and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance in the context of the Corrib Gas dispute in a prompt and impartial manner, conduct investigations regarding the actions of the police and adopt the measures necessary to instruct and equip the police in the area to discharge their functions adequately, particularly with regard to the policing of protests and crowd control
Â·Â Â Â Â Â The Special Rapporteur also took note of the reported consistent use of charges against protestors under articles 8 (failure to comply with directions of the police) and 9 (wilful obstruction) of the Public Order Act. This, together with the reported practice of withdrawal or dismissal of cases and the regular sanction of suspended sentences after court appearances could, in her opinion, undermine the right to protest and deprive defendants of the opportunity to respond to the legal charges made against them.
www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-47-Add-3_en.pdfÂ (Accessed 22 August 2013)
I participated in all processes outlined above and come before this court today numbered among those acknowledged by Global Community Monitor, Frontline Defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur as a human rights defender within the framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5.0 The Garda SÃochÃ¡na Ombudsman Commission (GSOC)
Should this Court suggest that GSOC is the relevant body to approach then I must state that I believe GSOC has never been fully independent and, since its issuance of an interim report into the Rape Tape incident, can no longer be considered impartial.
The lack of real independence in GSOC is upheld in both the Barrington and Sekaggya reports:
-the failure to permit the Garda SÃochÃ¡na Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to undertake an investigation into certain policies and practices of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na regarding the Corrib gas dispute. The fact that the Minister for Justice can â€“ and did â€“ veto such an investigation is a major weakness in the system (Barringon)
In 2007, in accordance with section 106, part 4 of the Garda SiochÃ¡na Act (2005), the Commission sought to conduct a â€œpractice, policy and procedureâ€ investigation into public order aspects of the dispute, and requested the consent of the Minister forJustice. Regrettably, consent was denied on the grounds that the Commission did not have enough experience at the time with complaints in terms of volume and seriousness to allow for patterns to be identified. As stated above, the Special Rapporteur considers that this section of the Garda SiochÃ¡na Act should be repealed and the Commission should seek again to conduct a â€œpractice, policy and procedureâ€ investigation into the public order aspects of the dispute in the light of its proven experience with complaints in recent years. (Sekaggya)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â It is recommended that the requirement that the consent of the Minister for Justice be obtained in order for the GSOC to conduct a policies and practices investigation be repealed.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â It is also recommended that the GSOC seek again to conduct a policies and practices investigation into the policing of the Corrib gas dispute. Specific issues for investigation would include:
-Â Â Â Â Â Â how human rights issues are mainstreamed in practice;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â how the duty to act impartially is given effect;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â how legal advice is sought and acted on;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â public order training;
-Â Â Â Â Â Â performance in public order situations, including the use of force;
-the use of public order powers in civil law disputes;
-the wearing of identification;
-timing and practice in connection with the service of summonses and
the bringing of prosecutions, particularly in matters where complaints
have been brought to the GSOC; and
-the keeping of records.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Repeal section 106, part 4, of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na Act (2005) to ensure full independence of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na Ombudsman Commission when conducting examinations on practice, policy and procedure of the police
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Until section 106, part 4 of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na Act (2005) is repealed, give consent for the Garda SÃochÃ¡na Ombudsman Commission to conduct an examination of the practices, policies and procedures of the police in the context of the Corrib Gas dispute Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (Sekaggya)
The decision by GSOC to issue an interim report on the Rape Tape controversy, whether driven by maladroitness or malice, had the actual effect of giving rise to screaming print headlines of â€˜rape tape tampered withâ€™ and such like and misreporting on RTE news to such a degree that one of the women concerned was forced to employ more of her time and effort in pursuing a complaint in that regard to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
The inclusion by GSOC in its final report of paragraphs 4.8 and 4.9 below destroyed what little trust I may have had in GSOC:
4.8 During the course of these interviews, new evidence came to light that another garda may have overheard one of the females using the word â€œrapeâ€ during the course of their arrest and prior to the word being used by any garda. This line of enquiry was pursued and a Detective Garda, who was present when the arrests took place, provided GSOC with a statement to that effect.
4.9 The arrests were video recorded at the time and the footage was reviewed in light of the above statement. Due to the distorting effect on the audio of high winds in the area at the time it was not possible to establish what was or was not said, or by whom. No other evidence became available to corroborate the Detective Gardaâ€™s statement.
http://www.gardaombudsman.ie/docs/publications/REPORT_PURSUANT_TO_SECTION_103_Aughoos_Erris_Co_Mayo.pdf (Accessed 30 August 2013)
A useful critique of this whole episode may be accessed at http://www.wsm.ie/c/gsoc-garda-rape-threat-tape Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
6.0 The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
I note the following in relation to the current DPP:
From 2009 until her appointment as DPP taking up office 07 November 2011, Ms Loftus was Head of Directing Division in the office of the DPP (This division makes prosecutorial decisions on files submitted from all around the country by the GS and other investigative agencies).
It is my intention to have the matters raised herein brought to the attention of the DPP.Â Â Â Â Â Â
7.0 UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defending, Ireland Report 2012
On 04 March 2013 UN Special Rapporteur Mrs Margaret Sekaggya presented her report on the situation of human rights defenders following her official visit to Ireland in November 2012.
www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-47-Add-3_en.pdf Â Â (accessed 22 Aug 2013)
Mrs Sekaggya called on the Irish Government to:
â€œinvestigate all allegation and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance in the context of the Corrib Gas dispute in a prompt and impartial mannerâ€;
Shestated that credible reports and evidence received by her indicated â€˜the existence of a pattern of intimidation, harassment, surveillance and criminalization of those peacefully opposing the Corrib Gas projectâ€¦. the information received seemed to indicate that the policing of the protests had been, in some instances, disproportionate.
Moreover, there have also been serious concerns about the lawfulness of certain actions by the private security firm employed by Shell.
She went on to note the use of the Public Order Act in a manner which could, in her opinion, â€˜undermine the right to protestâ€™.
Recommendations arising from both reports have, to date, been completely ignored by the state.
I participated in both processes and repeat that I come before this court today numbered among those acknowledged by Frontline Defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur as a human rights defender in the Shell/Corrib debacle.
I do not seek to evade the legal consequences of any actions of mine by hiding behind an acknowledgement as a human rights defender but I do expect that in this and other courts due legal process takes place on a level playing pitch.
8.0 My experience of law and policing and my right of human rights defending.
To date, in relation to specifically Shell/Corrib-related cases before this and other courts, I have lost count of the number of convictions secured against me.
Â Since 2009 I have served a two-year driving ban together with a total of 50 days in the DÃ³chas Centre, Mountjoy. Out of that 50-day total, I served a 28 day sentence on conviction for an offence alleged on 11 June 2007 at Pullathomas Pier and 14 days for non-payment of a â‚¬1,000 contribution to the Garda Benevolent Fund arising from that conviction (together with other fines totalling â‚¬2,700).
I remain the only person convicted of an offence following the incident at Pullathomas in June 2007.
9.0 Court Critique
Following my conviction and sentencing for the offence alleged at Pullathomas Pier Judge Mary Devins presiding directed that I undergo psychiatric assessment while in jail. I listened to this reported on newscasts on the hour every hour while being transported to Mountjoy and read reports in the following dayâ€™s press. . I remain forever grateful to Senator David Norris who asked in the Seanad on 12 March 2009: â€˜Are we returning to eastern Europe? Is it an attempt to use psychiatry to control political expression?â€™ Senator Norris also stated â€˜I am concerned about this (Shell/Corrib) and would be very sorry if, after the Garda having been enlisted on behalf of a multinational, the courts system would begin to play a role in this matter.â€™
http://debates.oireachtas.ie/seanad/2009/03/12/00004.asp(accessed 23 August 2013)
For the information of this court, Judge Devins had previously refused a request by John Reilly BL of Tooks Chambers, London that she recuse herself from hearing Shell to Sea related cases on the grounds of perception of bias given that she was married to Jimmy Devins who was at the time a FF member of the FF-led government. Judge Devinsâ€™ demeanour in court on that day led Shauna Gillan BL, who was present, to write the following to the President of the High Court Judge Miriam Malone:
My overall impression is that Judge Devins is overtly biased against those protesting against Shell.Â My impression is based on statements made in court by the judge, as well as her general attitude to individual protesters giving evidence or otherwise addressing the court during the dayâ€™s proceedings â€¦Â On the basis of what I witnessed in court last Wednesday, Judge Devins has crossed the Rubicon from â€˜apparentâ€™ to â€˜actualâ€™ bias.
10.0 Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee: An Garda Siochana/Minister of Justice
Not until I read Mrs Sekaggyaâ€™s report did I learn of an entity called the Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee (SHRAC), which was established by the police in 2005. On enquiry among those opposing the Shell/Corrib project I found that nobody else knew of its existence either.
I conducted further research and in time received a written reply from Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning, Chair of SHRAC; to the question â€˜please confirm whether or not, within the brief of SHRAC, the Assistant Commissioner Chair of the committee at any time requested the advices of SHRAC in the matter of the Corrib Gas controversyâ€™ AC Fanning wrote â€˜I am to confirm that no specific advice in relation to the Corrib Gas Project, specifically, with regard to policy was ever requested or givenâ€™.
In para.76 of her report the Special Rapporteur â€˜takes note of the establishment of the Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee by the police in 2005 and of the information received regarding the specific training of the police on handling protests and on the use of force. The Special Rapporteur trusts that the efforts will continue, thus providing adequate training and guidance to the police and other relevant personnel, especially with regard to the policing of protests and crowd control.â€™ It would appear that Mrs Sekaggyaâ€™s trust has been abused given the written admission above by AC Fanning.
In a debate on the Private Members Garda SÃochÃ¡na Bill 2013 on 16 July this year Minister Alan Shatter perpetuated the fiction of SHRAC â€“ as far as Shell/Corrib policing is concerned â€“ when he made the following contribution to the DÃ¡il debate on that date:
On the question of human rights, I recognise that one objective of the board, as envisaged by the Bill, would be the human rights proofing of all Garda policies, procedures and practices, the monitoring of their implementation and the development of a human rights-based code of service for all Garda operational policies and procedures. No one could disagree with the intention behind this aspect of the proposal. We all agree that human rights are central to policing. The Garda Commissioner is fully conscious of the absolute requirement for all members of the Garda SÃochÃ¡na to respect and vindicate the rights of individuals. It is worth noting that all operational Garda directives make reference to relevant human rights principles to remind all members of the force of their obligations in this regard.
It is also the case that a strategic human rights committee was established in 2005 as a result of a recommendation made in a Garda human rights audit that year. The purpose of this committee is to advise the Garda Commissioner and Garda senior management on how to promote human rights policies and procedures internally and externally and to ensure that best human rights practice is at the core of the Garda policing service. The House will be interested to know that the committee includes representatives from human rights experts working in a number of outside bodies, such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, ICCL, Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Human Rights Commission, IHRC. http://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2013-07-16a.572
If, between 05 March and 26 April this year, I managed to elicit the information I did in relation to SHRAC it was surely within the competence of Minister Shatter to inform the DÃ¡il that SHRAC had never sought advice in relation to the Corrib Gas Project particularly when Mick Wallace TD had referred to Corrib in his speech. For the record here today, Mr Shatter stated to the DÃ¡il that â€˜all operational Garda directives make reference to relevant human rights principles to remind all members of the force of their obligations in this regardâ€™ â€“ it might be of interest to this court â€“ and to all of us â€“ to have sight of such â€˜directivesâ€™ in respect of Shell/Corrib policing from September 2006 to present date.
11.0 Corruption of Police by Shell
In March of this year I contacted a reporter in the London-based Observer newspaper regarding a series of allegations which had appeared consistently since September 2012 on a website co-founded by John Donovan and his late father Alfred, available at www.royaldutchshellplc.com. It took from March until publication on 11 August to research and legal-proof the article written by award-winning journalist Ed VuillamyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/18/ed-vulliamy-ryszard-kapuscinski-award) under the heading â€˜Strange tale of Shellâ€™s pipeline battle, the GardaÃ and Â£30,000 of boozeâ€™. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/10/shell-pipeline-protests-county-mayo . While the reportage of alcohol provision to the police came as no surprise, I find the claim made by Mr Neil Rooney of OSSL as quoted below to be, indeed, sinister:
More sinisterly, OSSL also claims that a Shell manager demanded that Rooney withhold evidence after the clash, which occurred at Pollathomais in 2007. Rooney says that he heard an officer say of the pipeline protesters, “drive them into the sea”, but was told that this “cannot be part of your statement” to an ombudsman because the officer concerned was “our man” and “had to be protected at all costs”.
The following Sunday, 18 August, a follow-on story appeared in both the Irish and English editions of the London Times under the heading (Irish edition) â€˜Shell contractor delivered three loads of booze to gardaiâ€™ http://www.shelltosea.com/content/shell-contractor-delivered-three-loads-booze-gardaiÂ This follow-on story is remarkable given the mutual antipathy that exists between The Observer and The Times.
At time of writing (August 23 2013), while Shell has engaged in convoluted semantic exercises they have not issued a categoric denial of the printed stories; neither has Shell, despite its army of in-house lawyers and its indisputable access to funds to secure any legal representation it requires, issued any proceedings against either print or electronic media that covered this story. Similarly, Chief Supt. John Gilligan, Supt. Joe Gannon and Sergeants Butler (Belmullet), Grimes (Garda Water Unit) and Gill (now retired) named on the OSSL invoice have not issued any legal proceedings and neither the Garda Commissioner nor Minister Shatter have done so on their behalf.
12.0 Within Legal Limits
As stated, I have been before this and other courts on many occasions since 2009 on exclusively Shell/Corrib related cases.
On each occasion I have been represented by Mr Alan Gannon Sol., at times also by Mr Leo Moroney, Barrister.
I have accepted the verdicts handed down at District Court or, on appeal, at Circuit Court level; at present I have had an application for Judicial Review of a Bord PleanÃ¡la decision accepted in the High Court and await the hearing of same.
While I continue to accept the bona fides of the majority of officers of the court, I can no longer accept the bona fides of any of the police who are present as officers of the court today or, indeed, of any police with a connection to Shell/Corrib up to and including the Commissioner, for the reasons outlined above.
I use the term â€˜policeâ€™ deliberately because I believe the term Garda SÃochÃ¡na is properly reserved for those members of the force who remember the oath they took on passing out and who act in accordance with all regulations of AGS. The mission statement of AGS, â€˜Working with Communities to Protect and Serveâ€™ was torn up in Erris in the early hours of 03 October 2006 when I believe a subverted state, acting contrary to the common good, turned its police force on its own people at the behest of Shell.
For some time I have chosen to take the Declaration in court since, on too many occasions I witnessed police officers of the court mumble the oath over the Bible, then cast it aside and proceed to commit perjury â€“ with impunity.
I accept this is the â€˜appalling vistaâ€™ for the presiding judge but I can no longer place myself in the legal jeopardy that Â is brought about by political policing where perjuring police do more to dishonour the institution of the court â€“ and the rule of law â€“ than any so-called subversive group could ever hope to do.
I have done, and will continue, to put myself â€˜on the frontlineâ€™ in defence of Place but cannot and will not place myself in legal jeopardy.
In this instance, justice delayed is justice â€“ and law â€“ affirmed.