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November 14th Belmullet District Court Report

By: 
Shelver - RSC

 "Its crucial that people know what's going on in here... To my mind it's a constitutional imperative"- Judge Gibbons

There were eight people due to appear in Belmullet district court today for charges arising from protest against the Corrib gas Project.

One case was dealt with - a section 8 and 9 for obstructing a Shell lorry on the Bangor road by climbing up onto the digger it was transporting on the 13th of July this year. The defendant pleaded guilty to the section 9 obstruction charge on the condition that the state withdraw the section 8 (refusing to obey the directions of a Garda when they suspect you of committing an offence) charge. They didn't have a good case for the section 8 charge anyway so were probably content not to have to try prove it.

Judge Gibbons convicted and fined E150 nonetheless and had some choice words for the defendant that are worth repeating in the context of Corrib:

"Nobody has the right to interfere with people using the public highway".
Comment: Except for the Gardaí and IRMS - Shell's private security force.

"We do live in a tolerant democracy, we do tolerate different opinions"
But while deliberating on whether or not to convict he said:
"I thought it was just high jinx, but it was part of a protest which makes it more difficult".

Comment: If the defendant had just been just messing around on the digger, the judge would probably have not convicted and given the Probation Act or ordered a donation to charity. But if you come before the courts because of your opinions don't expect tolerance.

Referring to the importance that the media report goings on in the court to the wider public:
"Its crucial that people know what's going on in here... To my mind it's a constitutional imperative"

Comment: In February this year there was a week of Shell to Sea cases heard in the same court, involving 20 people defending 80 charges arising from protest against Shell. It was unprecedented in the history of the state, but not not one journalist reported on it. During an appeal of one of these cases in the circuit court a few months later, the three journalists from the local papers actually walked out of the court room when the case was called.

The other seven of the cases were put back until the next court dates which are the 12th of December and the 9th of January.

Posted Date: 
15 November 2012