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JUNE 19, 2009

THE TEMPERATURE has been turned up quite a few degrees in Mayo in the last week following the controversial sinking of Pat O’Donnell’s trawler in suspicious circumstances.  Interestingly, O’Donnell has featured in videos on YouTube where he appears to be taunted by eastern Europeans.  One such video was apparently put up by someone using the pseudonym ‘MyKaczy’ and a second video, allegedly from the same source, is also online, which is clearly filmed from inside the Shell enclosure.

O’Donnell has been a thorn in Shell’s side for some time but while suggestions that rogue security guards could have scuttled the vessel look wide of the mark, question marks have been raised over the status of some of those working for Shell’s security firm, Integrated Risk Management Services (IRMS). as a result of a recent court case.

In an interview on RTE Radio One last week, Jim Farrell of IRMS claimed that his firm employed only properly-trained and licensed individuals for security work defending Shell’s Corrib gas field operations in Mayo.

IRMS, Farrell declared, “operates 100% within the law”.  But it has already emerged that the late Michael Dwyer, shot in Bolivia last April, did not have an appropriate Private Security Authority (PSA) ‘static security’ license for the work he performed when employed by IRMS in Mayo in 2008 (see The Phoenix, 22/5/09).  Now a court case involving Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington has thrown up the fact that there are other unlicensed IRMS employees.

Three security personnel from IRMS who were working at the Shell site in Glengad gave evidence before Judge Mary Devins in Belmullet District Court last March concerning an alleged assault carried out by Harrington in June 2008 (see The Phoenix, 27/3/09).  The IRMS personnel were named in court reports as “Bogdan Wasniak”, “Gregors Yeankowsi” and “Bartish Saboska”.  These names appear to refer to Bogdan Wozniak, Grzegorz Jankowski and Bartos/- Sobotka, none of whose names appeared in the PSA register of holders of individual security licenses at the time of the incident although they have since been licensed.  An IRMS spokesman told Goldhawk that the company was satisfied that all its staff were PSA compliant, including the three named above.  However it seems clear they were not licensed until relatively recently.

As noted by Goldhawk, the PSA has not carried out detailed background checks for up to one-third of the security operatives it has licensed and the body does not regulate bodyguards at all (see The Phoenix, 5/6/09).

Former Army Ranger Jim Farrell revealed in his radio interview on Today with Pat Kenny that about 50% of IRMS’s workers on the Corrib project are foreign and the question arises as to what proportion of his workforce has been unlicensed.  Certainly, the fact that all the members of one particular security detail were not listed in the PSA register at the time is hardly consistent with a claim of be ing 100% compliant.

Having jailed and referred Maura Harrington for psychiatric assessment, it could not be said that Judge Devins (wife of former Fianna Fail minister Jimmy Devins) is in any way partial to anti-Shell protesters.  However, in the wake of the discovery of the connections between IRMS and events in Bolivia.  Devins was sufficiently concerned to ask for directions from the DPP. suggesting that the DPP might direct that it was now time for the security men’s employers (IRMS) to come into court.  The DPP. however, ruled that any involvement of the security company “outside the jurisdiction” should not be examined and that evidence should be based on the “veracity” of the witnesses. It remains to be seen. when the case is heard again, if the fact that the IRMS security men who gave evidence against Harrington were not listed as licensed by the PSA will be seen to impact on their veracity.

Meanwhile, now that the normally secretive IRMS management has started to give interviews, Goldhawk awaits enlightenment on some other issue raised in The Phoenix and on <> .  Why has the IRMS website remained offline since shortly after the death in Bolivia of the firm’s former employee Michael Dwyer?  When did the firm cease to employ the Hungarian Tibor Revesz, whose web address was used to recruit for the Bolivian escapade and featured a notice concerning an IRMS course involving arms training?  And what precisely is meant by services formerly advertised on IRMS’s own website described as “international armed and unarmed security” (see The Phoenix, 24/4/09)?  Watch this space.

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THERE are some glaring contradictions between the Garda statements and that of Pat O’Donnell about the sinking of the lona Isle off Broadhaven Bay on June II, 2009. There are also some questions raised by the Garda statements.  O’Donnell radioed Matin Head life guard station when he boarded his life craft, receiving contact back from that quarter and he then immediately telephoned Belmullet Garda Station relaying to them, among other details, that his armed and masked attackers had sped due north (ie, away from the direction the gardai eventually came from.

However, the Gardai stated that any attacking boat would have been travelling towards Ballyglass (south-east from the boat) and would have had to pass the Gardai as they made their way towards O’Donnell (why this must be so is not explained).  This ignores what O’Donnell says, ie, he had stated in his radio call to the Gardai in the first place that the ‘pirate’ boat had sped north. This detail appears in O’Donnell’s statement made by his solicitors before any Garda statement about the sequence and directions of the various vessels.

When one considers that the Gardai’s first practical act of investigation into this incident appears to be a demand for O’Donnell’s clothes – as if he were the subject of their inquiries – serious questions are raised, yet again, about the Garda attitude towards both sides in this increasingly fractious and dangerous dispute.

But the burning and outstanding question is why the Gardai did not speed north after reports that a boat with armed men had boarded a fishing craft and sank it and why the Gardai instead went in the opposite direction with the victim of this reported and very serious crime, namely, O’Donnell, whom they then chose to treat as a suspect.



JUNE 19, 2009


SUNDAY World crime hack Paul Williams spread his wings somewhat at the start of this month when he “investigated” the Shell to Sea movement in a programme entitled The Battle for the Gas Fields, produced by Gerry Gregg and Eoghan Harris’s company, Praxis Pictures.  Maybe Williams was chosen to front the programme because of his previous encounters with the Shell hospitality machine.

Oddly, despite the contentious nature of the programme, it didn’t attract too many reviews in the mainstream media although this didn’t stop Harris giving the programme a glowing review in his Sindo column.  In the Sunday Business Post there was more critical coverage, with Emmanuel Kehoe noting Williams’s “lip-curling disdain for the protestors” in a programme which “never seemed neutral in its intent”.

Crime corr Williams certainly played to form, referring to the main personalities in the Shell to Sea movement as “ringleaders” and highlighting the 1,200 workers in “booming” Erris “with good money to spend”.  Finding it hard to dig up local critics of the protest (which is apparently supported by, among others, “some of the most dangerous men in the dissident republican groups”) Williams noted that “it seems if you don’t toe the Shell to Sea line, you’re classified as an enemy of the people”.  Clearly there is plenty at stake and the excitable Sunday Worst reporter was anxious for the viewers to realise that the “combined battalions of agitators” were jeopardising the whole enterprise and, as a result, “billions of euro will be washed away”.

No doubt the suits in Shell were delighted with the tone of the programme and Williams’s stirring performance. Certainly they are admirers of his work and when Croke Park was first opened up to rugby with that historic match against England in 2007, Paul Williams was one of the spectators in the sold-out stadium.  Not that he paid.  The crime correspondent was deemed sufficiently influential to include on what Shell told Goldhawk was its “stakeholder engagement list”.  Not surprisingly, there were no other crime hacks invited by the oil giants that day. What a small world.

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