shell

On HRinI we’ve blogged on numerous occasions about the ongoing campaign in the West of Ireland to challenge Shell’s building of an on-shore refinery (see for instance here, here and here ) with a particular emphasis on the policing of that dispute. Many of those involved in the protests have come together to call for an inquiry into the policing of the project, the protests and the dispute. As part of that call those involved have drafted sample terms of reference for such an inquiry, which is important in highlighting the scale and range of the concerns which exist. What follows is a reproduction of these terms of reference. 

It is in the public interest that an independent public inquiry be conducted immediately into this police operation, including but not limited to, the following issues:

i. The legality of the no-arrest policy used throughout protests against the Shell/Corrib gas project from 2006 during which time campaigners were allegedly assaulted by Gardaí, resulting in the hospitalisation of several protestors.

ii. The legality of the Garda practice of arrest with no-charge.

iii. The legality of detaining large crowds without arrest.

iv. Allegations of phone tapping by An Garda Síochána.

v. Alleged incidents relating to the operation of the Garda Water Unit in water-based protest situations.

vi. Allegations that Gardaí made threats of sexual assault against protestors including the threat of rape.

vii. Allegations of Garda practice of using roadblocks to selectively allow some people to pass and others not.

viii. Allegations of Garda practice of searching individuals and vehicles with unclear reference to legislation or abuse of legislation.

ix. Allegations of locally-based Gardaí not providing equal service to residents associated with the campaign.

x. The use of batoning, assault and the pressure point technique (designed to inflict pain to force a protestor to comply with a direction), specifically clarifying in what circumstance such techniques are legal in protest situations.

xi. The legality of profiling opponents to the Shell/Corrib project by An Garda Síochána including allegations of Garda practice of targeting particular individuals perceived as leaders or influential in the campaign and subjecting them to harassment, violence and targeted prosecutions.

xii. The operation of all undercover police officers at protests against the Shell/Corrib gas project. In 2011, a British police officer Mark Kennedy was revealed to have been workingas an undercover infiltrator of environmental movements between the years 2003-2010.
In 2006, Kennedy spent time in Mayo, allegedly in the knowledge of the Gardaí, and gave direct action training to protestors during this time.

xiii. The circumstances surrounding the Pollathomas pier incident of 11th June 2007. On this day Gardaí are believed to have facilitated access to private land for Shell contractors against the consent of the landowner and used violence against 40 people who came to the landowner’s aid in blocking entrance to the land.

xiv. The circumstances surrounding the sinking of the ‘Iona Isle’ on the 13th June 2009, including the alleged failure of the Gardaí to respond to or properly investigate the incident. It is alleged that four masked men boarded the boat late at night, threatened the two crewmen aboard (both community campaigners) and caused irreparable damage below deck, leaving both men on the sinking vessel.

xv. The circumstances relating to the promotion of selected Gardaí known to have worked on the Shell/Corrib gas police operation.

xvi. Allegations that Gardaí failed to respond to campaigners’ complaints of harassment, surveillance and assaults by private security contractors working for Integrated Risk Management Services (IRMS), the security company hired by Shell to work on the Shell/Corrib pipeline project, including allegations that Gardaí refused to take statements from individuals who had been assaulted by IRMS.

xvii. The relationship between An Garda Síochána and private security company IRMS including the issues of:

  1. Allegations of Gardaí and private security cooperating in the policing of protests and of Gardaí taking orders from private security.
  2. Allegations of private security illegally detaining campaigners and in some cases handing campaigners over to Gardaí.
  3. Allegations of Gardaí arresting protestors on public road and bringing them into the Shell compound and detaining them there.
  4. Allegations of Garda command and control being set up inside Shell compound in Glengad in 2009.
  5. Alleged use of Glengad compound as a recruitment and training ground for mercenaries.
  6. The alleged illegal filming of children by Shell’s agents together with the alleged failure of the Gardaí to investigate this.
  7. Retired Gardaí taking up positions with private security company IRMS.

xviii. The relationship between An Garda Síochána and Shell specifically investigating:

  1.  Details of all meetings between senior Garda officers and Shell management and the purposes of those meetings including investigation into allegations of information sharing and coordination between An Garda Síochána and Shell.
  2. Allegations of Gardaí receiving bribes from Shell by former Shell subcontractor, OSSL who allege to have delivered large quantities of alcohol to Gardaí in Belmullet in 2005, 2006 and2007. OSSL also allege that they came under pressure by the head of Shell Ireland to change a statement one of their employees had prepared to give to GSOC in which he had stated hearing Superintendent Joe Gannon saying “I’m going to drive these fuckers into the sea” before a Garda attack was launched.
  3. Retired Gardaí taking up positions with Shell.

xix. To date, 24 individuals have been jailed for their opposition to the Shell/Corrib gas project. In some of these cases, convictions were sought through the testimony of Gardaí alone and allegations have been made that some convictions were the result of questionable and, in some cases, verifiably false Garda evidence being accepted in court to convict campaigners. An investigation into these allegations is essential to determine whether individuals were wrongfully convicted and should extend to the office of the DPP and the judicial process.

xx. This inquiry should include the effectiveness of An Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission complaints process vis-a-vis the complaints made by community campaigners between 2007-to-present-day, paying particular attention to the decision of the DPP not to prosecute members of An Garda Síochána. It should also address allegations that GSOC did not engage in an independent inquiry into the tape controversy of 2011 instead pursing a media campaign of spin and misinformation and “blame the victim” tactics.

xxi. This inquiry should include the role of the Department of Justice, including but not limited to, the decision in 2007 of the then Minister for Justice not to permit GSOC to conduct a public interest inquiry.

xxii. This inquiry should make known details of all public money utilised to resource the Shell/Corrib police operation.

This list reflects a small sample of incidents and practices identified by campaigners and human rights organisations since 2006 relating to the Shell/Corrib gas police operation.

 

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Written by Vicky Conway

Vicky Conway is a senior lecturer in criminal law at the University of Kent and author of The Blue Wall of Silence on police accountability and the Morris Tribunal. Her third book, Policing Twentieth Century Ireland is published by Routledge. She specialises in policing, miscarriages of justice and criminology. You can contact her at v.conway[at]kent.ac.uk or (+44) 01227 823149