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Niall Harnett jailed for 6 months

 Niall Harnett was today (Wednesday) sentenced to six months in Castlerea prison at Ballina Circuit court, for protests against Shell's proposed experimental pipeline. Mr Harnett had a sentence of six months imposed after refusing to undertake satisfactory community service. The sentence was in relation to a 'Reclaim the Beach' protest in the summer of 2008 where Mr Harnett went to the aid of another protestor who was being assaulted by Gardai. He also had a five month sentence confirmed by the court – these sentences will be served concurrently. Mr Harnett further had a two year driving ban affirmed. 



Mr Harnett is a long-time Shell to Sea campaigner, who has lived in Erris for the past three years. His jailing, joining that of Pat O'Donnell who has been imprisoned for 71 days at this point, further highlights the criminalisation of the members of the Shell to Sea campaign for their legitimate opposition to the dangerous Corrib gas project. Meanwhile, a section of pipeline that has been ruled to be without planning by An Bord Pleanála, remains intact and uninvestigated.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway stated: “This jailing is as a result of Shell's attempts to force this project on the area without community consent, pure and simple. Despite An Bord Pleanála's[1] finding that the project in its current form poses 'an unacceptable risk' to the health and safety of the local community, the project continues – and we are obliged to protest against it.”

He added: “Niall Harnett is a man of principle who has refused to accept that powerful interests always get their way. For this, he has been targeted and criminalised. This criminalisation has come about to cover up the Human Rights abuses by Shell and the Gardai, that have been suffered by people in this area[2] HR BLOG. Niall deserves better than this, the community deserves better than this, and the people of Ireland deserve better than the wholesale giveaway of our natural resources.”


For verification and further comment:

Maura Harrington

Terence Conway

Notes for editors:

1. The Corrib Gas Ruling

2. Gardai and the Corrib protests