"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
AN Erris county councillor has dubbed the €14.5 million spent on Garda security for the controversial Corrib Gas project ‘obscene’. Sinn Féin Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh said the monies paid for overtime and travel from 2006 to 2011 belied the government line that the IMF, ECB and EU troika was now dictating government spending.
The figures were revealed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter last week following a Sinn Féin Dáil question.
“The €14.5 million paid out over a six-year period between 2006 and 2011 comprises of €9 million in Garda overtime and allowances, plus €5 million on travel and subsistence, plus €500,000 on additional PRSI. This is in addition to the normal Garda salaries which would be paid regardless of the duties assigned,” Cllr Conway-Walsh said in a statement.
She continued: “It is difficult for people here in Erris to understand why nursing and care staff cannot be assigned to keep beds open in Belmullet District Hospital to meet the health needs of the some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Nineteen of the 39 beds cannot be made available because the government will not enable staff to be recruited, either on a temporary basis to cover maternity leave or on a permanent basis to cover retirements. Yet there is no limit to the amount of Guards that can be deployed to meet the needs of a multinational company.”
Cllr Conway-Walsh went on to question the wisdom of spending such sums of money on policing the Corrib Gas project when Garda stations in the county are being closed to save money. “There are two Garda Stations, Bellacorick and Mulranny, earmarked for closure in this constituency. Would it not be better use of Garda resources to leave these and other rural garda stations in Mayo, such as [the station in] Tourmakeady, open.
“These figures are not a surprise to me or my Sinn Féin colleagues, but they do belie the excuse rolled out by this government time and time again that ‘the EU, IMF, ECB made me do it’ when they impose draconian cuts in education, health, CE schemes and many other vital services,” Cllr Conway-Walsh added.