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Shell and its private army’s link with child abducting Nile rebels

JUNE 28 2009

Irish Mail On Sunday

First Bolivia, now Sudan… yet another controversial connection emerges for the Corrib gas security firm whose guards patrol the bays of Mayo

By Michael O’Farrell
INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT

THE security company charged with protecting Shell’s controversial Corrib gas project has links with a one-time rebel army in Sudan that forcibly recruited thousands of child soldiers, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Integrated-Risk Management Services (I-RMS) was established in 2004 by former Irish Ranger Wing officer Terry Downes and Jim Farrell, an ex-Ranger Wing Regimental Sergeant Major.

During their top-secret military careers, both men specialised in anti-terrorist intervention and were subject to the Official Secrets Act.

But as well as expanding his Irish business, Mr Downes has forged a new partnership with a security company that operates in more than half a dozen countries throughout east Africa.

The MoS has established that Mr Downes is the CEO of a new African company called KK Lodgit, based in Nairobi.

Speaking this week from Kenya, KK Lodgit’s managing director, Paul Rees, said that Mr Downes travelled to Nairobi to oversee affairs at least twice a month.

He also indicated that the new firm – a cash transit business – had withheld its website due to the risk of exposure to protesters in Ireland who were objecting to the Shell gas project.

I-RMS, based in Naas, Co. Kildare, has kept its own website off line since former employee Michael Dwyer was controversially shot by security forces in Bolivia two months ago. That site used to refer to an I-RMS subsidiary called I-RMS Africa, based in Nairobi, although, in a search of company files at the attorney general’s office in Nairobi, the MoS was unable to locate the existence of any such firm . Neither is the African subsidiary mentioned in any of the Irish company accounts.

KK Lodgit is a joint venture between Mr Downes and KK Security – perhaps the best-known security firm in Kenya, with operations in countries including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Sudan.

KK Security’s operations are headed up in each country by a variety of former special-forces soldiers from Britain, the US and elsewhere, giving Mr Downes a ready-made network of intelligence and security contacts in east Africa.

But the Sudanese branch is led up by Machar Bading Jageah Gien, a serving officer in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) – a rebel force that infamously press-ganged up to 12,000 child soldiers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The abductions, detentions and marches across hundreds of kilometres of desert are well documented by organisations such as the UN and Human Rights Watch.

One such NGO report, entitled ‘The Lost Boys’, describes in detail the removal of boys from southern Sudan by the SPLA, describing the process as ‘warehousing’ children for subsequent use in the war.

Although the SPLA is credited with being the first African rebel group to move, in 2000, to end the use of child soldiers, isolated abductions continue.

Last year’s UNHCR report on child soldiers cited UN evidence confirming the ‘presence of children associated with SPLA forces in southern Sudan’. The youngest was nine and the average, 16.

Nevertheless, the Christian SPLA and its political wing have been supported by the West against the Muslim militias which are backed by the government in Khartoum. Since a peace deal in 2005, the SPLA is the main constituent of the government of the semi-autonomous south.

Consequently, UN agencies and the World Bank now count themselves as clients of KK Security in Sudan, despite its connections with rebel groups responsible for atrocities.

KK also provides security for a number of UN missions as well as US and Canadian embassies. The firm is credited with pioneering the use of unarmed security guards to combat spiralling gun violence in cities such as Nairobi. But the link between Mr Downes and a firm associated with Sudanese rebels along the Nile will be seized upon by anti-Shell protesters in Ireland who accuse the firm of using excessive force against protesters here.

I-RMS has been at the centre of ongoing complaints from protesters and has been linked to violent farright extremists since the April death of Tipperary man and I-RMS employee Michael Dwyer in Bolivia.

Mr Dwyer and his right-wing associates, I-RMS workers he met on the Corrib gas project, are accused of plotting to kill Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Although there is no evidence to suggest any I-RMS involvement, mysterious events at the Corrib site, including the alleged sinking of a trawler by masked frogmen two weeks ago, continue to dominate the headlines.

In the wake of the negative publicity, the firm has recently hired Dan Pender, a former PR advisor to Martin Cullen, to look after its press affairs.

The firm was also involved in providing security for the controversial Oasis gig at Slane Castle last weekend – where complaints centred on the ineffectiveness of the security rather than any heavy-handedness.

But with its two-year security contractor’s licence with the Private Security Authority (PSA) up for renewal in August, the complaints against I-RMS are about as welcome as a fisherman in Broadhaven Bay.

Nevertheless, in a statement, the PSA said all these complaints had been satisfactorily dealt with and Mr Pender said his clients were confident there would be no issue with the renewal.

But despite the fact that Mr Downes has publicly spoken of an E8m turnover, the most recent I-RMS accounts, for 2007, show credit and debit figures well below €500,000, with losses in the region of €100,000.

And though the company has claimed to employ over 300 staff, the accounts do not show any PRSI or wage costs, while corporation tax has ranged from just over E600 in 2006 to zero in 2007.

The accounts of other companies owned by Mr Farrell and Mr Downes – Mobile ATM Ltd and European Logistics Security Ltd – also show negligible revenues. There is no mention in any of the annual returns of any subsidiary in Africa. The company did not respond to questions about these apparent inconsistencies but issued a statement to say it ‘works with respected clients in Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East’.

‘Our employees are trained by fully qualified and certified professionals in Ireland and the UK only& Our services include cash-in-transit, which we operate under our Lodgit brand here in Ireland and in partnership with KK Lodgit internationally. We also provide security briefings and training for people such as journalists, businesses and NGOs visiting hostile security environments,’ the statement said.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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