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Irish Times: Complaints over Garda presence at Corrib hearing

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, Irish Times
Published: Apr 18, 2007

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has contacted the Garda over complaints about its presence at the Corrib gas oral hearing in north Mayo.

EPA senior inspector Frank Clinton has been in touch with the Garda, following concerns raised at the opening session of the oral hearing, an EPA spokeswoman said yesterday.

The EPA did not request a Garda presence at the public hearing, she said. However, Chief Supt Tony McNamara, head of the Mayo Garda division, said last night that he had received no complaints in relation to the level of Garda security at the hearing and he understood the EPA “was quite satisfied with the current level”.

GardaI were on duty yesterday morning for the second day of the hearing in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet, which is dealing with a pollution control licence for the terminal. Some 13 appeals to a preliminary integrated pollution prevention control (IPPC) licence have been lodged, including one by Shell E&P Ireland, lodged in relation to some of the conditions attached.

Shell to Sea spokesman and appellant John Monaghan questioned the necessity of the Garda presence, and the chairman agreed to examine the issue.

A large number of gardaI are still deployed in the Erris area on behalf of the State, and the total cost to late January was 3.14 million, according to Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

Independent TD Dr Jerry Cowley had criticised the Garda decision to deploy over 100 gardaI in the area, and has filed a Dail question in relation to the latest cost.

Three Erris fishermen recently received summonses in relation to alleged incidents during protests at the Bellanaboy gas terminal late last year, and a Garda spokesman said more summonses may be issued.

The Garda also said seven arrests were made on and outside the terminal site since the weekend.

Dr Cowley expressed disappointment that Corrib gas partners, Shell and Statoil, have begun exploring a further area off the Mayo coast before a Government review of terms given to oil and gas exploration companies has been published.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy is due to deliver a key High Court judgment in relation to the Corrib gas project this week.

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