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Shell Corrib Gas Controversy: Call for Investigation into boat sinking

“A fisherman who is vehemently opposed to the Corrib Gas project claimed yesterday that his 40ft trawler was deliberately sunk by men armed with handguns who sneaked aboard the vessel off Erris Head in the early hours of yesterday morning.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kilcommon group calling for investigation into boat sinking
BY MARIAN HARRISON

POBAL Chill Chomáin wants a “proper and independent investigation” into the sinking of the Iona Isle boat prior to offshore pipe-laying for the Corrib gas project last summer.

The calls come just a week after a human rights report on the Corrib saga recommended that a thorough investigation be held into an alleged assault on well-known protestor Willie Corduff.

Pat O’Donnell’s boat was sunk off Erris Head in a bizarre incident that has become the subject of counter-allegations from pro and anti gas groups. In a statement at the time, Mr O’Donnell claimed that four masked men, two of whom were armed, boarded his boat while he was laying lobster pots.

The men sunk the boat, leaving Mr O’Donnell and his crewman, Martin McDonnell, clinging to a life raft. Mr O’Donnell is currently serving a seven-month custodial sentence in Castlerea Prison for obstructing gardaí during protests.

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Friday June 12 2009

Irish Independent

Shell denies plot to sink anti-Corrib man’s boat

By Tom Shiel and Brian McDonald

A fisherman who is vehemently opposed to the Corrib Gas project claimed yesterday that his 40ft trawler was deliberately sunk by men armed with handguns who sneaked aboard the vessel off Erris Head in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Gardai say they are investigating the claims of crab fisherman Patrick O’Donnell.

They are also investigating an incident which occurred at the same time in which up to 14 people in kayaks attempted to approach a Shell-contracted dredger in Glengad Bay.


Shell E&P Ireland denied yesterday that any of its workers were involved in the sinking of the Iona Isle — registered to Mr O’Donnell’s son, Jonathan.

Mr O’Donnell said that he and his crewman Martin McDonnell were at sea, off Erris Head, at around 2am when the Iona Isle was boarded.

He added: “I was in the wheelhouse when four men wearing diving gear . . . came on board. Two of them had handguns. Some of the men went into the engine room where they must have burst a plank. I could feel the boat getting heavy. I knew we were sinking.”

Mr O’Donnell said the intruders left in an inflatable rib while he and his colleague abandoned their sinking vessel.

A statement issued by the Erris Community Groups, Pobal Chill Chomain and Pobal Le Cheile, said: “This outrage involved the forced boarding of his fishing boat by masked intruders, the false imprisonment of Pat O’Donnell and his fellow fisherman Martin McDonnell, and the use of force.”

In a statement emphatically rejecting any suggestion of involvement by its employees in the sinking of the Iona Isle, Shell E&P Ireland claimed that a number of malicious allegations had been made against the corporation and its security contractors in recent weeks.

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