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Security firm for Shell at Corrib site rejects ‘conclusion on alleged assault’

The Irish Times – Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LORNA SIGGINS Western Correspondent

THE COMPANY providing security to Shell at the Corrib gas project in north Mayo for the past two years has said it rejects outright a “central conclusion” of a report on the dispute at the site by a human rights organisation.

The security company I-RMS said yesterday that Rossport farmer Willie Corduff was “not assaulted” last April at the Corrib gas pipeline landfall at Glengad.

It is seeking a “retraction of any insinuations in the Front Line human rights report that I-RMS was involved in any assault on Mr Corduff” and says the report must be amended to include recent findings by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The report published yesterday by Front Line, which was commissioned from barrister Brian Barrington, recommends that gardaí from outside Mayo reinvestigate the alleged assault of Mr Corduff at Glengad on the night of April 23rd/24th, 2009, which led to his hospitalisation.

The Front Line report analyses a number of incidents relating to the Corrib gas dispute in 2008 and 2009, and is critical of Shell, the Garda, I-RMS security, the Private Security Authority of Ireland, the Department of Energy, and a minority of protesters.

It finds that residents protesting peacefully on health and safety grounds about the gas project have the right to be described as “human rights defenders” under United Nations guidelines.

However I-RMS, which was interviewed by Front Line, is now seeking an amendment to the report which takes into account a reported DPP decision that there were no grounds for criminal prosecution over the alleged assault.

In the analysis of the reported assault on Mr Corduff, Mr Barrington obtained hospital records which state that Mr Corduff had “been kicked all over the body” and experienced loss of consciousness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. All X-rays and a CT brain scan proved normal and he was discharged the following day.

An independent report by a medical expert confirmed that the injuries were consistent with a “history of assault”.

Mr Barrington, who says he is satisfied that Mr Corduff was assaulted, draws no conclusions on who was responsible.

I-RMS director Jim Farrell said that he had three reasons for believing Mr Corduff was not assaulted. He said he was “personally present at all times” during Mr Corduff’s “presence under and adjacent to the truck”.

Also, he said that the DPP had concluded that I-RMS had “no case to answer and no prosecutions will be sought” in relation to the investigation, and he said that the DPP had concluded that I-RMS actions were “both legal and justified”.

The DPP had also considered all medical records and this was “not referenced” in the Front Line report, Mr Farrell said.

“As a professional, my duty of care was to Mr Corduff,” Mr Farrell said. He said the concern was to keep Mr Corduff warm and dry, that food and water be provided to him, that medical support was in place. He said that at all times the first consideration was the health and safety of Mr Corduff.

“Given these facts, it is stunning that Front Line could reach such a conclusion. Furthermore, it leaves the report open to charges of being disproportionate, naive and incomplete,” Mr Farrell said.

I-RMS had consulted its legal advisers, he said.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission said a recommendation in the report about its role in reviewing policing practices was a question for the Minister for Justice.

There was no comment from Shell.

Mr Corduff said he knew what had happened to him and “the truth will come out eventually”.

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