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Security at Shell’s site for pipeline is run by ex-special forces man

Irish Mail on Sunday August 3, 2008

Security at Shell’s site for pipeline is run by ex-special forces man

Sergeant major’s firm polices site in Co. Mayo but denies use of army workers

By Frank Connolly

A FORMER member of the elite Irish Army Rangers unit is head of a company that is providing security at the site in Co. Mayo that has been the scene of angry protests against the attempts by Shell E&P to bring its controversial gas pipeline onshore.

Jim Farrell, a director of Business Mobile Security Services Ltd, trading as Integrated Risk Management Services (I-RMS) is a former sergeant major in the Irish Defence Forces.

The Kildare-based company has also recruited other former military personnel for the extensive security operation at Glengad in north Mayo.

The news will add to concerns over the manner in which the site is being policed. Already there have been complaints of intimidation and suggestions that the CCTV surveillance breaches the rights of local residents.

There has also been outrage over Shell’s procurement of part of the beach, which has been sectioned off from the public. And several people were arrested at the site recently after protesters clashed with gardai.

A co-director of the company, Terry Downes, who is a former head of security at global freight operator TNT, told the Irish Mail on Sunday that I-RMS is providing services at the Shell-controlled site.

However, he said it was ‘absolutely untrue’ to suggest that any current members of the defence forces were employed at the site.

He also disputed claims by local residents that children or adults walking on the public beach alongside a fence erected by Shell have been unlawfully filmed or harassed by his employees.

‘Objections have been made in relation to the alleged filming of children at the site. Our company absolutely denies any such activity on the part of our staff and we have been happy to inform all the relevant authorities of our operations at Glengad,’ Mr Downes said.

Asked about suggestions that his company employed current members of the defence forces, on a part-time basis, Mr Downes said it was ‘absolutely untrue’.

He refused to confirm, for ‘operational reasons’, any further details of the company’s security service at Glengad or any details of work it has provided for Shell in Ireland or in any other part of the world.

Mr Downes also refused to deal with other questions including those concerning the nature of his firm’s contract with Shell and whether the company has recruited staff who have been involved in military service in conflict regions, including South Africa or Iraq.

The company website states that a subsidiary, I-RMS Africa Ltd, based in Nairobi, Kenya, provides specialised security services in east Africa. The parent company, Business Mobile Security Services Ltd, recently obtained financing from the British merchant bank, Close Brothers, according to documents filed in the Companies Registration Office.

Work at the Glengad site was disrupted last week when protesters objected to plans to lay the pipeline which, they claimed, had not received the proper Government consents. After a number of arrests, it emerged that the Department of the Environment had omitted to publish the fact that the consents had been granted some years ago.

Shell executives refused, in recent weeks, to identify the company involved in providing security at the pipeline landfall site which local people have complained is intrusive and in breach of the oil company’s commitment to develop cordial relations with the local community.

Shell has repeatedly refused requests by community leaders, priests and politicians to relocate its planned gas processing facility to a more remote location at Glinsk in Co. Mayo where the pipe will not run close to people’s homes.

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