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Glengad family ‘tormented’ by Shell surveillance

The Mayo News

Family ‘tormented’ by surveillance

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Glengad family ‘tormented’ by Shell surveillance

Anton McNulty

A GRANDFATHER living beside the Shell compound at Glengad beach, where the Corrib gas pipeline comes ashore, says his family has been ‘tormented’ by security staff who, he claims, are constantly filming him and his grandchildren when they walk across a family field to get to the beach.

Last week, Mr Colm Henry (59) made a formal complaint to the Gardaí in Belmullet about the constant surveillance of his family’s movements by security staff beside his home at Glengad. Mr Henry’s house is the closet to where the pipe comes ashore and he told The Mayo News the surveillance started in April when, he claims, a new security firm replaced the original security which was conducted by people from the locality.

Mr Henry said the new security personnel wear paramilitary-style uniforms rather than normal security attire and claimed they partially cover their faces and are very intimidating. He said there could be ten to 12 security personnel at the camp at any one time and added that they will not identify who they are or which company they work for. He said he was adamant that he never trespassed on the Shell land and said he made the formal complaint because he was worried about his young grandchildren being filmed when they go to the beach.

“They are all the time filming us, and we are tormented by it. Once we leave our house there is one of them filming us, another using binoculars and another one on the radio. I have never trespassed once on that land but I would go past it when I am bringing my grandchildren to the beach. They would be out filming us, even when they are on the beach playing. There is no communication whatsoever between us and you wouldn’t know they were security guards because they wear jet black clothing and there is nothing on them to say they are security,” he said.

Shell E&P Ireland confirmed that surveillance is taking place in Glengad, but claimed it is needed because of the threat of ‘criminal activity’ close to where the gas will come ashore. Netting has been erected by the company on the cliff-edge near the shore to prevent sand-martins nesting there during construction. There have been six different incidents involving damage to the net, which is estimated to have cost approximately €30,000 worth of damage.

Mr John Egan, External Affairs Manager with Shell E&P Ireland, denied there was footage of Mr Henry’s children and said he was happy to meet with Mr Henry to discuss his concerns. Mr Egan explained that the security personnel do not turn on their cameras until an incident happens, or until they believe that an incident is going to take place. He added that the security company did not wish to be named and said it was company policy not to discuss security details.

“Our community liaison officer went to 32 residents in Glengad and not one raised the issue about excessive security. There were issues raised about the work and the noise but nothing was raised about security. There is a clear procedure in place where the security personnel only record an incident which is occurring or about to occur. Any tapes of incidents are passed to Gardaí to investigate and I reassure Mr Henry that we do not have tapes of him and his grandchildren playing. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss his concerns and reassure his family,” he said.

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