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Court told Corrib protesters halted work

Tom Shiel, The Irish Times

Thursday, March 25, 2010

PROTESTERS WHO suspended themselves from triangular scaffolding on the beach in Co Mayo where gas from the Corrib field is to come ashore halted work on the site for a day last year, it emerged at a special sitting of Belmullet District Court.

Judge Gerard Haughton was told that two men, Eoin Ó Leidhín, Barnacuillew, Pollathomas, and another man, who was not in court, remained on two tripods at the site for a whole day, obstructing all beach works.

Mr Ó Leidhín appeared before Judge Haughton charged with wilful obstruction and failing to obey the instructions of a garda at Glengad Beach on May 14th last.

Sgt Pat Lavelle told the court that Mr Ó Leidhín’s actions had been an attempt to stop work on the extension of a security fence.

Sgt Lavelle said Mr Ó Leidhín stayed on the tripod for 12½ hours, completely obstructing all works. Some 40 or 50 workers had been unable to start work for fear the two protesters would be knocked from their tripods.

Mr Ó Leidhín, who conducted his own defence at the Tuesday night special court sitting, said they had set up two tripods on the beach to protest at what he saw as illegal works by Shell, adding: “We felt strongly they had no right or no consent to do the work they were doing.” He had taken precautions, and wore a safety harness.

After hearing the evidence, the judge dismissed both charges against Mr Ó Leidhín.