Joint call for inquiry into Corrib policing

Politicians, journalists and social justice campaigners among petition signatories

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, four TDs, one Senator and seven academics are signatories to a petition for an independent inquiry into policing of the north Mayo Shell/Corrib gas dispute.

Transparency International chief executive John Devitt, Garda whistleblower John Wilson, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday and film-maker Lelia Doolan have also signed the petition, supported by five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 31 public figures.

The petition to Government notes that the UN Human Rights Commission, South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and NGOs including Amnesty International, Frontline, Table and Global Community Monitor have already issued similar calls.

Extended operation Gardaí


are no longer deployed in significant numbers in north Mayo, and Shell has completed its tunnelling operation for the last section of the pipeline, but the signatories note that the policing operation was one of the longest in the State's history, and it has "drawn critical attention from national and international human rights organisations since 2006".

The petition notes that residents and campaigners against the project had submitted complaints "en masse" to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in 2007, following a serious incident involving several injuries to residents and gardaí at Pollathomas pier.

In that same year (2007), GSOC sought permission to undertake a "practice, policy and procedure" investigation of the Garda handling of protests, but was refused by then justice minister, the late Brian Lenihan.

No action taken GSOC recommended in 2009 that a senior garda be disciplined over the handling of the Pollathomas protest, but this was not acted upon by the then Garda commissioner.

"The following year, two officers on secondment to GSOC tasked with addressing the body of complaints in relation to the policing of the Shell/Corrib gas project gave their apologies to campaigners before returning to New Zealand, " the petition claims.

It notes that 24 individuals have been jailed to date for their opposition to the project and says that an investigation should determine whether these individuals were wrongly convicted.

The petition says that an investigation should look at the relationship between the Garda and Shell and between the Garda and private security company Integrated Risk Management Services, employed for the Corrib project.

Other signatories to the petition include Dr Vicky Conway, Kent Law School senior lecturer and Irish Times columnist Vincent Browne.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

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