“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
Dublin Shell to Sea organised a protest at Mountjoy prison last night after receiving the news that Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington had been arrested for non payment of fines and was on her way to the prison for the 5th time int two years. Some 40-50 people turned up on a few hours notice including a contingent from the Critical Mass cycle that was taking place.
In what is hardly a coincidence Shell have sent letters to residents of the local area, warning them that drilling works are about to start in Sruwaddacon Estuary. It is a feature of the campaign that Gardai often find reasons to arrest prominent campaigners whenever Shell needs to start work.
Terence Conway a Shell to Sea spokesperson from the area commented that the “jailing is purely and simply timed to help Shell to undertake their destructive drilling in Sruwaddacon. The dangers we've seen very clearly with the Deepwater Horizon spill, as well as the giveaway of Ireland's natural resources, are the reasons why three campaigners are now stuck in prison. Maura Harrington has been a resolute opponent to Shell, and it is clear to everyone in this area that the Gardai have gone out of their way to persecute her because she has been such an effective campaigner.”
A picket was maintained at the front gates of the prison for over an hour, watched from across the road by a couple of car loads of secret police. Between September 2006 and December 2009 some 12.6 million euro was spent suppressing protest in Erris on police overtime and expenses alone (ie excluding the normal wages).