Corrib security company's alleged surveillance 'a civil matter'

GARDAÍ IN Mayo say the alleged surveillance activities by a security company employed on the Corrib gas project are a "civil …

GARDAÍ IN Mayo say the alleged surveillance activities by a security company employed on the Corrib gas project are a "civil matter" for the complainant.

Chief Supt Tony McNamara, the Mayo Garda division head, told The Irish Times there was "nothing of an overt criminal nature" in alleged activities by security staff employed by Shell EP Ireland at the Glengad landfall.

Local resident Colm Henry, who lives in the nearest occupied residence to the landfall for the Corrib gas pipeline, has lodged a formal complaint with the Garda and Government departments about video recordings of himself and his grandchildren on property owned by his wife's family.

Security staff have filmed the children on their way to Glengad beach, Mr Henry said. Shell has acquired the property closest to the Glengad landfall for the Corrib gas offshore pipeline. Shell EP Ireland confirmed that surveillance is taking place at Glengad, but denies there is any footage of children and says that "no house is under surveillance".


Pobal Chill Chomáin, the Kilcommon parish group which has proposed a new location for the gas refinery, has called on Shell to identify the security firm involved.

"As the authorities have not yet taken any action to curb this activity, Pobal Chill Chomáin sees it as further evidence of the ongoing efforts being made by Shell and the State to intimidate the community of Kilcommon parish into accepting a flawed and tainted project," the group says in a statement.

It says the Henry family's concerns have been conveyed in letters to the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Children's child welfare unit, and to Statoil in Norway - Statoil being a partner in the Corrib gas project.

Chief Supt McNamara said that Mr Henry had been advised by the Garda superintendent in Belmullet that his complaint was a "civil matter".

A Shell EP Ireland spokesman for the Corrib gas partners said the security firm had asked not to be named. An Irish firm to the best of his knowledge, it was based at Glengad on Shell property. All video recordings were made available to the Garda, and recording only took place when security staff believed "an incident was about to occur or is occurring", he said.

He added that the firm wrote to the Henry family this week, and its community liaison officers called to 32 houses in the area in the past. The Henry family was not home when its officers called.

Mr Henry says the company wrote to him this week, but that no attempt was made to make an appointment. "I believe this is aimed at deterring people from using the public beach at Glengad, to facilitate Shell's construction work at the landfall," he said.

Several Mayo-based journalists have been filmed or observed the filming, and photographs were published in this week's Mayo News and Mayo Echo.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times