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Garda watchdog to investigate Corrib booze claims

Áine Ryan - Mayo News

THE garda watchdog is expected to reveal today (Tuesday) that it will open an investigation into allegations by a former Corrib gas contractor who claims he supplied a large quantity of alcohol to Belmullet Garda Station before Christmas 2007. This follows GSOC’s  (Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission) receipt of the findings of an investigation into the matter, led by a senior Mayo Garda, Superintendent Thomas Murphy.
A GSOC spokesman said yesterday it was ‘considering the content of that material’ while the Garda Press Office confirmed the examination has been completed and ‘all details passed on’ to the garda watchdog.
GSOC’s options include the opening of an investigation into formal complaints made by those directly affected, or, as in the case of the Rape Tape debacle in April 2011, which also involved gardaí policing Corrib, to open an investigation in the interest of the public.  
Supt Thomas Murphy was appointed some months ago to examine allegations by OSSL, a small services company,  that Shell owed it €43,000 for the delivery of €29,500 worth of alcohol to Belmullet Garda Station, and to other senior garda personnel involved in the policing of the fractious project.  OSSL has published a detailed invoice of this transaction that it sent to Shell in August 2012.
A previous garda inquiry ‘found no evidence’ to support the matter while Shell also said an internal inquiry returned no such evidence. Some weeks ago the oil and gas giant said it “unequivocally rejects OSSL’s allegations regarding delivery of alcohol at any time to An Garda Síochána Síochána’.
However, Desmond Kane, co-owner of OSSL, said his company was paid by Shell for smaller amounts of alcohol delivered to the garda station before Christmas 2005 and 2006.
Moreover, he has consistently claimed his company was also employed to provide ‘sweeteners’ for the local community and that these  ‘accommodation services’ included ‘a tennis court, cookers, television sets, agricultural equipment, school fees, home improvements, garden centre visits and forestry equipment’. Kane claims that invoices for such ‘sweeteners’ were shredded and that the accepted practise was for no ‘traceability’.
In an email sent in September 2012 to Shell’s lawyer, Julia Busby, and copied to other Shell executives and senior gardaí, Des Kane states: “Let me repeat the 2005 alcohol is paid in part we have no further claim on the outstanding balance the same applies to 2006. 2007 delivery is uninvoiced we waited for your instructions re the burial of this matter such instruction never came despite many promises. Please pay this outstanding invoice now to bring the matter to a close.”
However, Shell says that a month earlier, on August 2, 2012, OSSL had in fact signed a final settlement of all claims and contractual matters in the presence of its legal advisers. Shell confirms that three weeks later OSSL sent an invoice for the December 2007 booze deliveries.
“At the Royal Dutch Shell AGM in May 2013, a commitment was made for a senior Shell representative from outside Ireland to meet Mr Kane of OSSL. That meeting took place in early June 2013. No new information was provided by Mr Kane at the time and [Shell] remains satisfied that the contractual dispute between the two companies has been closed,” a Shell spokesman said some weeks ago.  
Responding last night (Monday) to Supt Murphy’s referral to GSOC, John Monaghan, of community group, Pobail Chill Chomáin, said, it was ‘time for a review of the overall Garda operation in Erris, as well as a rethink of the Garda ombudsman set-up, as advised by several human rights reports. Shell to Sea reiterated this viewpoint.
“Shell to Sea is on record calling for an independent, international inquiry into all aspects of the Shell-Corrib project. We have little faith in GSOC following its role in the Rape Tape episode in 2011,” veteran campaigner, Maura Harrington said.
Shell said yesterday it ‘welcomes the Garda examination into the OSSL allegations and is aware that Supt Murphy has referred his findings to GSOC’.

Posted Date: 
23 October 2013