"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
UNDERCOVER British police officer, Mark Kennedy, may not have been the only agent provocateur to infiltrate the Corrib gas campaign. That’s according to John Monaghan of Pobal Chill Chomáin who told The Mayo News last night the community has always known there were agents embedded in the controversial campaign, which has caused a bitter community divide and led to violent clashes between gardaí and protestors in north Mayo.
As the media storm contin-ues over former metropolitan police officer, PC Mark Kennedy – who adopted the fake identity of Mark Stone in 2003 – the ripples of his subterfuge and sordid activities have left a remote community in north Mayo with more unanswered questions about the controversial Corrib gas project.
“We have always assumed from very early on that the campaign had been infiltrated but that didn’t worry us, because we have nothing to hide. It seems very unlikely that Mark Kennedy, who has now been exposed, was the only agent to penetrate the various protests groups involved,” Mr Monaghan said.
“In a Daily Mail interview broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday night (January 16), Kennedy rubbished reports he had gone native and was a rogue agent. He confirmed he was tracked everywhere he went and that his whereabouts were known and sanctioned at the very highest level. If that’s the case, then there are serious questions to be answered. Were the British Metropolitan police allowing a British agent operate in Ireland without the knowledge of the Garda Síochána or the Minster of Justice? Or, on the other hand, did the gardaí and the minister know about these operations and sanction them? No matter what the scenario, there are serious questions to be answered. Some one in authority in Ireland must be held accountable,” he continued.
While Mr Monaghan said he didn’t believe that Kennedy had any real influence on how the Corrib campaign was conducted, he suggested he may have influenced ‘the perception of the campaign’ and ultimately the heavy-handed tactics used by the gardaí.
In March 2006, Kennedy spent several days in north Mayo and advised on the merits of direct action at a Shell to Sea workshop, it has emerged.
He also visited the home of Rossport Five member, Willie Corduff, with a group of British and Icelandic activists sympathetic to the Corrib campaign.
Mary Corduff said: “It’s unfortunate that you take people in good faith. What we would like to know is who he was working for while he was here?”
Responding yesterday to the unfolding story, fisherman Pat O’Donnell told The Mayo News that the revelations about Kennedy clearly proved that there was collusion with unknown forces.
“This is only confirmation of what we already knew was going on here. Remember when Dr Jerry Cowley brought it up in the Dáil about his concerns that phone-tapping was being carried out. When will people believe us?”
In an interview given to a Rossport Solidarity Camp member and published by Indymedia, Kennedy said ‘it was really important for campaigns not only in Ireland, in Mayo or in Iceland but also campaigns in Spain, in Italy [to] ‘work together’.
“We need to network and we need to be working on these issues together, exchanging information and ways of doing things, and looking at the ways corporations are putting the pressure on us and sharing that information so that we can go forward and win our struggles,” he said.
“In the future, when things happen, we can carry on and have a better idea of how to protest against these corporations.”
It has now emerged that Kennedy also attended other major protests in Ireland including the Dublin May Day. demonstration in 2004 and gatherings about the US military aircraft at Shannon airport. One activist told The Irish Times that ‘he was very encouraging of the more militant end of direct action’.
It has also been reported that he infiltrated environmental protest movements right across Europe over a six-year period.
Labour TD Michael D Higgins has written to the Department of Justice regarding Kennedy’s activities in Ireland. “It is of grave concern,” he told The Irish Times. “This type of activity undermines respect for the law and it is very sinister in that it can damage good causes.”
A spokesman for the department said it had ‘no information on any alleged activities in this jurisdiction by the person in question’.
ADDING to the intrigue, The Sunday Times revealed at the weekend that the 41-year-old, has a wife and children living near Kilbrin, Co Cork. Reportedly, however, this had not deterred the former police officer from sleeping with a number of female protestors, one of whom said she now feels ‘violated’.
Ultimately, Kennedy was outed by a number of suspicious activists last November. Then last week a trial of six defendants accused of planning to occupy the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Britain collapsed after revelations that Kennedy had both spied on them and acted as an agent provocateur. The British Crown Prosecution dropped the case after discovering that Nottinghamshire police had withheld tapes that ‘fatally undermined the case against the protestors’.Kennedy left the police’s National Public Order Unit in March last and may have since fled to the United States.
The Sunday Times reported that he is expected to return home to his Co Cork home for his 12-year-old son’s confirmation in May.