Corrib security firm 'most monitored'


THE SECURITY firm working for Shell on the Corrib gas project is the “most monitored” security company in the State, according to the Government’s regulator for the industry.

Private Security Authority chief executive Geraldine Larkin told the Government’s northwest Mayo forum yesterday that no formal action had been taken by her body against this particular company.

However, in light of complaints from the area, the authority had been “working with” the organisation since January to ensure that its staff wore identification.

The company, Integrated Risk Management Services, which she did not name, had also agreed that its staff would wear new identity badges, she said. The authority was mandating all security staff in the State to display badges from next September, but the company had agreed to use badges “before this”.

The actual commencement order for this legislation was signed three years ago by the Minister for Justice in April 2006. Labour Party president Michael D Higgins has asked Dermot Ahern to explain the delays in implementation. He has also asked the Minister to explain the relationship between the Garda Commissioner and private security firms.

Mr Higgins had raised the issue of security in submissions in the Dáil relating to the recent sinking of a fishing boat owned by a Shell to Sea supporter Pat O’Donnell off Erris Head.

Ms Larkin told forum chair Joe Brosnan that licensing of more than 1,000 companies and more than 22,000 security staff dated from 2008. Apart from Garda vetting, companies and individuals were “constantly monitored”.

Staff who had been living more than six months outside Ireland were required to provide a criminal record certificate for every jurisdiction they had been in, she added. An individual may work for six weeks while awaiting vetting approval.

“We are working on putting a system in place to flag up those individuals working on temporary identification. We’ve asked this company to ensure no unlicensed staff come on site.”

Ms Larkin confirmed that 156 private security staff were working on the Corrib project.

Two Erris community groups, which have endeavoured to highlight issues over security and policing of the Corrib gas project, did not attend yesterday’s session, as they said that the forum had no statutory basis.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon Ó Cuív denied that conditions had been set, but did confirm that the forum had no statutory basis. “Dialogue” was always helpful, he said.

Shell to Sea Galway has also said it is disappointed that Mr Ó Cuív did not accede to a request from it to convene a meeting on security issues outside the remit of the forum, given the community’s difficulty with that body.

Mr O’Donnell and his family have asked for an urgent meeting with the Garda in Belmullet in relation to what they call their constitutional right to fish during the offshore pipelaying work by Shell in Broadhaven Bay.

Mr O’Donnell, who recently described how his boat was sunk, was arrested twice by gardaí last year during the pipelaying but was released shortly before a special court hearing questioning this.

A 500-metre exclusion zone has been placed for the work and the pipelaying ship Solitaire is due to resume efforts to lay the pipe shortly. Several hundred gardaí and the Naval Service are due to provide security, with the Naval Service deploying one and “possibly” two patrol ships and rigid inflatables, working with the Garda Water Unit.

Department of Agriculture fisheries and food official John Quinlan told the forum that anyone with a valid fishing licence may conduct fishing in a reasonable manner in compliance with consents issued.