"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.”
The Irish Times
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Two people detained in Belmullet, Co Mayo, yesterday in relation to a complaint about intimidation over the Shell Corrib gas project were released last night and a file is to be sent to the DPP.
The two, a man in his sixties and a woman in her thirties, were arrested and taken to Belmullet Garda station yesterday afternoon and were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Chief Supt Tony McNamara, head of the Mayo Garda division, confirmed that the arrests were related to a complaint of intimidation which gardaí in Belmullet were investigating. He described the complaint as the most serious of a number of similar complaints lodged over the protests at Bellanaboy.
More than 100 gardaí are still stationed in the area to escort Shell staff and contractors on to the terminal site.
Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington was taken to hospital with suspected concussion after an incident at yesterday morning's protest close to Bellanaboy. Ms Harrington was treated at the scene by Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley and was taken by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. She chose to be transported in a Health Service Executive (HSE) ambulance rather than in an Irish Red Cross ambulance, which Shell is required to have on the site.
Ms Harrington, who was released from hospital yesterday afternoon, said that she had been knocked to the ground by a garda and had sustained injuries to her head and neck. She had been in front of a group of protesters and was carrying a cross in memory of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa when she felt herself "flying through the air" and then lying on the ground.
Gardaí said that any complaint would be investigated, but they believed that Ms Harrington's injuries resulted from a collision with a garda who had put up his hand to defend himself. However, Ms Harrington said that she was only 6½ stone in weight and represented no physical threat.
She said she had every respect for An Garda Síochána, but the officers who had been stationed in north Mayo over the past 11 days were "out of control".
Yesterday's arrests brought to six the number of people detained in the past two days as a result of the continuing protests.
Dr Cowley is to host a press conference with Independent TDs Tony Gregory and Séamus Healy and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins at the Bellanaboy site on Monday morning.
© 2006 The Irish Times