Corrib gas project protesters on trial for criminal damage charge

Men accused of entering Shell compound in Mayo and of committing violent disorder

Gerry Bourke  and Liam Heffernan  both pleaded not guilty to the charges which are alleged to have occurred at a Shell compound at Aughoose, Pullathomas in north Mayo on June 23rd, 2013. Stephen Hird/Reuters

Gerry Bourke and Liam Heffernan both pleaded not guilty to the charges which are alleged to have occurred at a Shell compound at Aughoose, Pullathomas in north Mayo on June 23rd, 2013. Stephen Hird/Reuters

 

Two protesters opposed to the Corrib gas project in north Mayo have gone on trial in Castlebar where they are both accused of violent disorder and criminal damage.

Gerry Bourke of Aughoose, Pullathomas, Ballina, Co Mayo and Liam Heffernan of Castlebar, Co Mayo, both pleaded not guilty to the charges which are alleged to have occurred at a Shell compound at Aughoose, Pullathomas in north Mayo on June 23rd, 2013.

Opening the case on Tuesday before Judge Petria McDonnell in Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court, Mr Patrick Reynolds, for the prosecution, said the two men are accused of entering the Shell compound with a number of other people and of committing violent disorder and criminal damage.

The Shell compound at Aughoose was the tunnelling site for the Corrib gas pipeline, and Mr Bourke is accused of causing damage to heras fencing while Mr Heffernan is accused of damaging timber hand rails while on the site.

The jury of six men and six women heard evidence from Drew Dixon, the construction manager with Shell at the time, who said the protesters entered the compound at approximately 3.30pm.

When he entered the site he noted there was damage to heras fencing, hand rails, a welding set and a electric junction box was damaged. He added that four diesel-operated draining pumps were also damaged, with diesel spilt.

Mr Nixon told Mr Brendan Nix, SC for Mr Bourke, that had he worked on the Corrib project since 2009 and to his knowledge there was a disaster plan in place in the event of an emergency at the gas terminal at Bellanaboy or problems with the gas pipeline.

Mr Nix said “if anything went wrong”, his client had 20 seconds to evacuate his home. Mr Nixon acknowledged it was not a long time to get evacuated.

Mr Nixon also denied having any “first-hand information” regarding claims alcohol was delivered to An Garda Síochána in Belmullet from Shell.

The trial continues and is expected to last for the remainder of the week.