Court hears of ‘running battle’ between protesters and Shell security

Two men in court over violent scenes at compound in north Mayo in 2013

A security worker described a protest at a Shell compound in north Mayo as "a running battle" involving up to 70 protesters and 15 security officers.

The evidence was given at the second day of the trial of two protesters who are both charged with violent disorder and criminal damage following a protest at a Shell compound at Aughoose, Pollathomas in north Mayo on June 23rd, 2013.

Gerry Bourke of Aughoose, Pollathomas, Co Mayo and Liam Heffernan of Kilnagear, Belcarra, Castlebar, Co Mayo have both pleaded not guilty to the charges at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.

Alan Wells said he was working as a security officer with Senaca Security at the Shell compound when up to 70 protesters arrived at the main gate .


He said he was called to the Lenamore side of the compound where protesters had gathered and he started videoing the events.

Mr Wells said the protesters were pulling down the perimeter fence and the security guards had to pull back because they were outnumbered.

When the protesters entered the site, he claimed they told his boss Jim Farrell to “f**k off” when he asked them to leave.

Mr Wells said the protesters were pushing and shoving with the security and described the scene as a “running battle”.

He said they were “throwing anything they’d find at us” and were damaging equipment on the site.

Mr Wells said during o questioning from Brendan Nix, SC for Mr Bourke, that if he lived within 200 metres of the gas pipeline, he would “be very wary of it”.

Jonathon Padden, who also worked at the compound as a security guard, said he was given a camcorder and told to video the protesters as they attempted to enter the site.

He described the scene as very violent and claimed the protesters were “firing stones and rubble” at security.

Mr Padden claimed Mr Bourke got a wooden stake and started hitting the fencing and the protesters eventually came through the fence. He claimed Mr Bourke and another protester got aggressive with Mr Farrell and started pushing and shoving him.

He also said Mr Heffernan was the “most violent” protester and claimed he rugby tackled a security guard.

Mr Padden said they were pushed back to another gate in the compound. He said the protesters “‘went mad” and security had to crawl through a small gate to get away.

Cross-examined by Conor Dignam, SC for Mr Heffernan, the witness admitted that he could not remember some details of the day and what he knew about the incidents was from reading over his statement to the Garda.

The trial continues before Judge Petria McDonnell.