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Campaign to Replace Irish Police Ombudsman

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 00.40.57Despite the Corrib Gas dispute being the single largest source of Garda complaints that GSOC have had to deal with, no Garda has ever been held to account for their law-breaking and abuse of powers. In March 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekaggya, called on the Irish Government to “Investigate all allegation and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance in the context of the Corrib Gas dispute in a prompt and impartial manner”. 

Shell to Sea repeats call to dissolve GSOC and to establish a proper oversight body

News release – Issued by Shell to Sea – Tuesday 18th February 2014

Shell to Sea has today repeated calls that it has made previously, that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) be dissolved so that a new functioning Garda oversight body can be established. Shell to Sea believe that it is impossible for GSOC to operate as a functioning Garda oversight body due to the flawed nature of its founding legislation. Former GSOC Commissioner Conor Brady has stated that he too believes the Garda Síochána Act 2005 “was fundamentally flawed”. [1]

Despite the Corrib Gas dispute being the single largest source of Garda complaints that GSOC have had to deal with, no Garda has ever been held to account for their law-breaking and abuse of powers.

Both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Frontline Defenders have recommended that Section 106 of the GSA Act 2005 be repealed; this section allowed the Minister for Justice to veto GSOC doing a “practice, policy or procedure” investigation in the policing of Corrib. [2,3]

Shell to Sea also plan to attend a protest outside the Dail this Wednesday along with other groups including Justice 4 All, when Minister Alan Shatter is due to give evidence before the Oireachtas Oversight committee.

Maura Harrington stated “We have no faith that the review of paperwork masquerading as an enquiry announced by Alan Shatter in the Dáil will achieve anything other than kicking the can down the road. It’s another ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ – Shatter sets the terms of reference of the enquiry, Martin Callinan stays in the background and they both ignore the peoples’ deep need for transparency and accountability in public life“.

In March 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekaggya, called on the Irish Government to “Investigate all allegation and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance in the context of the Corrib Gas dispute in a prompt and impartial manner”. [2]

Ms Harrington continued “We repeat our call for an impartial investigation into Corrib policing, which we believe can only be satisfied by competent people outside the State

In 2009, GSOC revealed that they had received 111 complaints regarding Corrib policing; that 78 of these were deemed admissable and that seven had files sent to the DPP [4]. However no Garda has ever had to stand trial or whenever discipline was recommended to the Garda Commissioner by GSOC, the recommendation wasn’t acted upon.

Terence Conway stated “We have been some of the people on the receiving end of the violence that the Gardaí have been allowed to get away with, due to the fact that there isn’t a functioning body to hold Gardaí to account. It has become clear that the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the DPP have each played their part in protecting Gardaí from the legal consequences of their criminal behavior, even when it has been recommended by GSOC”.

For more information contact:      

Maura Harrington:    087 9591474
Terence Conway:     086 0866264
http://www.shelltosea.com
http://www.facebook.com/shelltosea
http://twitter.com/#!/ShellToSea

Links

[1] Shatter’s moves on Garda fall short of reform needed – Conor Brady – Irish Times

[2]  Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya – Mission to Ireland

[3] Frontline report : “Breakdown in Trust: A Report on the Corrib Gas Dispute”

[4] No red tape for Corrib’s silent protestors – Áine Ryan – Mayo News

[5] Garda accountability in question over GSOC affair – Vicky Conway – Irish Times

The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:

1) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.
2) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted.
3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

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