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MAY 8, 2009

ROSSPORT farmer Willie Corduff’s 20-hour protest under a truck at Shell Ireland’s Corrib gas pipeline landfall site at Glengad last month was terminated by a strange and unexplained series of events portrayed by the Gardai and media as a paramilitary assault. But the reports from the same sources simply don’t add up.

One of the famous Rossport five jailed for almost four months, Corduff had recently been involved in direct mediation talks with Shell brokered by Ministers Eamon O Cuiv and Eamon Ryan. These talks broke down early last month and it was no secret that Shell was delighted — having hated the idea that two Cabinet members would elevate the status of a community Shell’s spin doctors have tried to pillory. Before the ink was dry or an attempt was made to re-engage, energy minister Eamon Ryan signed off on an environmental management plan which appeared to permit Shell to resume work on its pipeline landfall site at Glengad.

When Shell contractors returned to Glengad on April 22 Corduff and neighbours claimed that they didn’t have full authorisation for “ancillary” works on the beach — a point also made by An Taisce [Ireland’s National Trust] headquarters in a complaint sent to Mayo County Council. The company and its Statoil and Marathon partners are also still awaiting a decision from Bord Pleanala on its new onshore pipeline route from Glengad in to the refinery at Bellanaby.

In the late hours of April 22 and early hours of April 23 there occured a sequence of events beginning with a late night protest by locals, followed by a reported attack on the site by masked men with iron bars, and concluding with Corduffs removal from beneath the truck and his transfer to hospital. Gardai had quit the Glengad compound before dark, leaving Corduff with his brother-in-law and Shell’s security guards, IRM, in situ.

However, shortly before 9am on April 23, listeners to RTE Morning Ireland were told that the Gardai had sealed off an area at Glengad as a “crime scene”. But this was not because of what allegedly happened to Corduff, which was barely mentioned, but because of an alleged “incursion” and “intimidation” of Shell security staff and “damage” to equipment by “armed” and “masked” men who acted with “military precision”. This was later updated to “paramilitary precision” by the zealous Mayo Gardai.

But as locals have pointed out — even if the media has not — the Gardai have declined to say if they were present.

This is because any such admission would beg the question: why did they not arrest any of the paramilitary perpetrators? And if they were not present, how do they possess such precise details of the assault?

Corduff and his neighbours deny any knowledge of this group, while Corduff says he thought he was going to die in the assault on him. There has been a deafening silence from whoever it is that wishes to claim responsibility for this successful “incursion”.

All of which has successful deflected attention from the key issue – the activities of Shell’s band of merry men at IRM, who filmed residents’ grandchildren at Glengad last year, who have been accused of deliberate provocation and who appear to have a very close relationship with the Gardai.

Just a day before Shell returned to Glengad last month, prompting Willie Corduff’s protest, a headline had appeared in the Western People casting a new light on IRM. “Mercenary was Corrib gas guard” the headline read over the Western People report on the death of Tipperary man Michael Dwyer in Bolivia. And media reports since have claimed that at least one of Dwyer’s colleagues in Bolivia – were also veterans of “Operation Glengad”.

All of which meant that the Dwyer-Bolivian link to IRM as well as the assault on Corduff was obscured in the sensationalism caused by a ‘paramilitary’ type assault which, as could easily be predicted, had absolutely no beneficial effect on the local protesters cause. How very strange.


Rossport Resident: Willie Corduff

Rossport Resident: Willie Corduff

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