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Irish Times: Corrib activists seek Garda inquiry

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent
Published: Jun 19, 2007

The Shell to Sea campaign says it will be notifying the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Health and Safety Authority about last week’s incident in Pollathomas, north Mayo, which left more than 20 people injured.

In a related development, an early opponent of the Corrib gas pipeline has lodged a complaint with Mayo County Council about the Rossport solidarity camp.

Two gardaI and 20 residents and supporters of the Shell to Sea campaign were injured in last week’s clash at Pollathomas, when gardaI and Shell contractors attempted to place a temporary structure below the pier to support a proposed marine survey of Sruwaddaccon bay.

The solicitor for a resident who had informed the contractors that he owned the land close to the public pier tried to make contact with gardaI in an effort to resolve the situation. However, the garda heading the operation said he was not aware of this until the following day. The solicitor subsequently issued a notice ordering the structure’s removal from private land.

Shell has since apologised to the landowner for the distress caused, but believes it was within its rights. However, Shell to Sea spokesman John Monaghan, who was arrested at the altercation, says the events have left people “both physically injured and severely traumatised”.

“This marks the lowest point yet in the authorities’ handling of the controversial Corrib gas project,” he said. The group is seeking investigations by the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Health and Safety Authority.

Meanwhile, Monica Muller has complained to Mayo County Council that the Rossport solidarity camp requires both planning permission and an environmental impact statement.

Ms Muller had been one of six named defendants involved in legal proceedings with Shell E&P arising from their opposition to the proposed route of the pipeline through their lands at Rossport. Ms Muller and Peter Sweetman agreed last year to withdraw their counterclaims and Shell’s claim against them was struck out on the basis that Shell would pay their legal costs. Four of the six are still pursuing their counterclaims.

Camp spokesman Bob Kavanagh said he and his fellow participants had a very “low impact lifestyle”, a close relationship with the local community, and had been given advice on a number of occasions by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The camp is situated close to the landfall and original onshore route for the pipeline, and was established two years ago shortly before the Rossport five were jailed.

“If the pipeline were to run across this area, it would destroy it, so I think anyone concerned should be looking to Shell and not to us,” Mr Kavanagh said.

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