Senior garda will not be disciplined over Corrib protest

 

THE GARDA Síochána has rejected a recommendation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission that disciplinary action be taken against a senior officer in relation to the handling of a Corrib gas-related protest in north Mayo.

The force has informed Ombudsman that it found “no breach of discipline” on the part of the senior officer in relation to Garda handling of a protest at Pollathomas pier, Co Mayo, on June 11th, 2007.

The Garda Ombudsman has sought an explanation from the gardaí for this decision, according to letters sent last week to some 14 residents whose complaints about the incident were deemed admissible for investigation.

The Garda Ombudsman’s recommendation was referred to the Garda Commissioner in July of last year, and the Garda Síochána replied a week ago.

The Ombudsman advised that a “less serious breach of discipline be considered” under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 in relation to the garda at the centre of the investigation.

Where a breach is treated as “less serious”, the type of sanctions which may apply include reduction in pay not exceeding two weeks’ pay; a reprimand; a warning; a caution; or advice.

The investigation was undertaken under section 95 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, following receipt of a number of complaints in relation to the Garda handling of a protest at Pollathomas pier on June 11th, 2007.

Some 20 civilians and two gardaí were injured, when a landowner objected to trespass on his property by contractors for Shell EP Ireland. Several arrests were made, but the case of one of those detained was dropped at the direction of the DPP. The landowner, who had been unwell, was hospitalised afterwards.

Contractors for Shell EP Ireland subsequently removed a temporary shelter placed on the pier for Corrib gas survey work, on receipt of letters from the landowner’s solicitor.

Some 18 complaints were submitted to the Ombudsman in relation to the Garda handling of the situation.

Rossport resident Mary Corduff, who received treatment for injuries, was one of 14 people who were told in October 2007 that their complaints were deemed admissible. Four other complaints alleging criminal behaviour were not deemed admissible.

Ms Corduff told The Irish Times yesterday that she was very disappointed. “We have been told time again by judges that we should take every legal course of action in relation to our concerns about the Corrib gas project, which we have done over the past 10 years,” she said.

The garda at the centre of the Ombudsman investigation has not served in the area for over two years. A Garda spokesman had no comment to make on the issue.