Mayo family complains over Shell surveillance

 

A NORTH Mayo family has made a formal complaint to the Garda about constant surveillance of their movements by security staff attached to the Corrib gas project.

Colm Henry, resident of Glengad, says that he and his grandchildren have been filmed by security staff with video cameras every time they walk across family land to a local beach.

Shell EP Ireland has confirmed that surveillance is taking place in Glengad, landfall for the Corrib gas pipeline, but has denied that any film of the children exists.

Mr Henry, a construction worker and musician, says that the security personnel, sometimes wearing camouflage clothing, emerge from what appears to be "foxholes" when he and his grandchildren are walking across a field owned by Mrs Henry's family.

"We are not opposed to the gas coming ashore if done in a safe way, and our house is the nearest to the Glengad landfall. Security staff have been based in a property acquired by Shell for some time, but the problems really began in April when there appeared to be a change of security personnel," Mr Henry said. "We object to our grandchildren being filmed while walking and paddling, and we will be seeking to have this footage returned to us," he said.

Shell EP Ireland says the security personnel do not turn on their cameras until an incident has happened, or they believe an incident is "going to take place".

The company's external affairs manager, John Egan, said at the weekend the surveillance was needed because of "criminal activity" close to the point where the gas will come ashore. He said that since April there had been six serious incidents involving the burning of nets which had been erected by the company on a cliff to prevent sand-martins nesting there during construction work.

Labour Party president Michael D Higgins has questioned the legality of erecting the nets under the EU Birds Directive.

Damage estimated at €30,000 had been caused to the nets, Mr Egan said. He added that some of the incidents, which involved "known objectors", had been filmed and the information passed on to the Garda.

Mr Egan said the company's objective was to be "good neighbours", and they would welcome an opportunity to meet Mr Henry.

Mr Henry said yesterday he had never been approached by the company. Mr Egan stressed that the company was not suggesting the Henrys were involved in criminal activity, but the "facts were that known objectors had walked through his field in the past".