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Irish Times: GardaI deny using baton on protester

Published: Dec 23, 2006

GardaI have denied that force was used during yesterday’s early morning protest at the Corrib gas terminal in north Mayo. Lorna Siggins , Marine Correspondent, reports.

Shell to Sea campaigners say that one of their local supporters was injured when a garda drew a truncheon and hit the man several times on the arm and leg. Mary Corduff, who was at the protest along with her husband, Willie, condemned the action and said it was a “very sad development, coming up to Christmas”.

The incident is said to have occurred shortly before 9am yesterday, an hour after workers on the terminal project had arrived on site under Garda escort. Up to 30 people witnessed the incident, according to PJ Moran, local farmer and member of the Shell to Sea group. The garda’s number was recorded.

“It seems as if the gardaI are getting annoyed with us now, as they haven’t succeeded in doing what Shell wants them to do, which is to frighten us away,” Ms Corduff said.

“They tried to justify using force before by saying that outsiders were causing trouble, but the protest involves up to 70 or 80 local people on most days now.”

GardaI had also been making “personal remarks” about protesters during this week, Ms Corduff said, while Mr Moran said gardaI seemed to be trying to provoke trouble.

Several complaints are currently being prepared by campaign members who were injured during the “day of action” on November 10th last, and one demonstrator, who was hospitalised, is still receiving medical treatment. Campaigners are expected to hold a short rally outside the terminal on Christmas Day.

Chief Supt Tony McNamara, head of the Mayo Garda division, denied that a truncheon was used yesterday and said he absolutely rejected any suggestion that gardaI were behaving provocatively. One incident in which a man’s glasses were broken had been reported.

“There has been a lot of intimidation of workers going on to the site which is not being picked up by the media,” Supt McNamara said. “Our staff are also being intimidated but have been instructed not to engage with the protesters in any form.”

Shell E&P Ireland announced plans yesterday for an office complex costing 1 million which will accommodate up to 25 administrative staff in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

The offices, to be located on an Údaras na Gaeltachta industrial unit, will serve as regional headquarters for the partners in the Corrib gas project and will replace an existing temporary facility at Bangor Erris.

 

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