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Protest hears calls for Pat 'The Chief'' O'Donnell's release

---End of cases against 25 campaigners this week has exposed biased policing in Erris---

Today Saturday 27 March saw a national protest at Castlerea Prison calling for the release of Pat O'Donnell, who has been imprisoned for seven months for his opposition to Shell's ill-fated Corrib gas project.  Speakers highlighted how the dismissal and withdrawal of charges against 25 campaigners this week has further exposed the bias of policing in this area, and has added to calls for justice from the local community.  All of the speakers at the event spoke out against the injustice of Mr O'Donnell's imprisonment, and of his commitment to his community and protection of the area, against Shell.

A special sitting of Belmullet District Court was convened this week to deal with the large number of prosecutions (27 in total) taken against protestors relating to a period last summer when Shell was laying a crucial section of its controversial Corrib gas pipeline close the shore.  These cases resulted in one campaigner being convicted, one being given the probation act, while 25 people had their cases either dismissed or withdrawn.

During the course of the cases, Judge Gerard Haughton ruled that Shell to Sea campaigner, Eoin Lawless was "unlawfully detained" by Gardai. This leaves the opportunity open to nine of the defendants to take cases on the matter of their detention against the Gardai.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “This week 25 people have had their presumption of innocence vindicated, and the integrity of the Gardai's operation at Glengad has been seriously undermined. Now that this bias has been fully exposed, we are calling for Pat O'Donnell, who has also suffered due to the political policing of this campaign, to be released with the honour he deserves.”




* Maura Harrington 

* Terence Conway