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Irish Independent: Anti-pipeline group furious as FG leader calls in gardai

Irish Independent: Anti-pipeline group furious as FG leader calls in gardai

“FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny yesterday launched an attack on the “Shell to Sea” protest group…”

Monday 8 August 2005

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny yesterday launched an attack on the “Shell to Sea” protest group and on Independent TD Dr Jerry Cowley, whom he said was personally accountable for a sit-in at his Castlebar constituency offices at the weekend.

Mr Kenny said his staff were “intimidated and abused” by the group.

After an eight-hour protest, which included two of the wives of the incarcerated Rossport Five, gardai ejected the group from Mr Kenny’s Linenhall Street offices at 9.30pm on Friday night. Inspector William Keavney confirmed that Mr Kenny had alerted gardai to the situation.

“Shell to Sea” protesters say they were led to believe Mr Kenny would meet them to clarify his party’s position on the proposed offshore Corrib gas terminal. The Fine Gael leader claimed he was busy at another engagement.

Maura Harrington, spokeswoman for the protesters, said: “I was manhandled by the gardai when I attempted to return inside to retrieve my mobile phone and handbag. There was no need for such aggressive behaviour.”

She added: “Kenny’s accusation that his staff were imprisoned is farcical in light of the Rossport Five’s incarceration. Furthermore, his accusation that we used abusive and bad language is more of his posturing.”

She admitted she called one of his assistants a “sugar lump” but added: “If Kenny classifies that as abusive language, he urgently needs to wrap himself in cotton wool.”

Caitlin Ni Sheighin, wife of one of the Rossport Five, said the wives were disappointed at not meeting the Fine Gael leader.

“We made the 100-mile round trip from Rossport firmly believing we would meet Enda Kenny. The situation was very pleasant in his offices. Staff were courteous; they offered us tea. The protest was entirely peaceful. There was great support on the streets,” said Ms Ni Sheighin, adding: “We feel shocked and very let down by Kenny.”

Dr Cowley said Mr Kenny’s remarks were regrettable. “Enda Kenny is a public representative elected by these people, no more than myself. I have been trying for some time to elicit a clear answer from both Kenny and Pat Rabbitte regarding their position of the offshore terminal. This latest outburst is simply an attempt to deflect from the real issue.”

Inspector Keavney said: “Local gardai kept an eye on the situation throughout the day. We decided that we would approach the protestors around 9.30pm and ask them to leave since they were trespassing on private property.

“The two sergeants who carried out the operation did not manhandle any of the protesters. They were committing an offence – that was pointed out to them. After a discussion they left the building.”

Aine Ryan

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