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Kilcommon group calling for investigation into boat sinking

Marian Harrison - Western People

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.

The Kilcommon group said Mr O'Donnell has been "subjected to disproportionate and apparently unlawful treatment" at the hands of both Shell and An Garda Síochána during the dispute.

“It is long past the time that Pat O'Donnell was returned to his family and given the freedom to continue with his livelihood and to pursue the justice to which he is entitled as an Irish citizen," said a Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesperson.

The group said many issues highlighted in the Frontline Report, which investigated alleged human rights abuses in the Corrib controversy, could have been avoided and it was to be hoped the lessons of the past would be heeded "to avoid the further erosion of our basic human rights".