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Ryan welcomes human rights report on Corrib dispute

LORNA SIGGINS Western Correspondent

The Irish Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

MINISTER FOR Energy Eamon Ryan has welcomed publication of the Front Line human rights report on the Corrib gas dispute and said his department would “take all points on board”.

“Independent oversight is always welcome, and we take this report seriously,”Mr Ryan said. “The more neutral observers the better, if this helps to give people confidence.”

He said this was also the approach taken by the Government’s northwest forum which had received reports from the Garda Ombudsman and the Private Security Authority of Ireland.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said the Front Line report was a “contribution to the debate on all the issues surrounding the opposition by some to the Shell gas project” and its recommendations addressed to State agencies “will be considered by them”.

Mr Ahern said that policing of Corrib gas protests had been difficult for the Garda and the force would continue to uphold key principles and “defend the human rights of all involved”.

He said the Garda would continue to uphold law and order and the people’s right to “go about their lawful business, including access to their work place”.

Mr Ahern said a number of protesters had been convicted of offences and some had been imprisoned over protest actions.

The report for Front Line by barrister Brian Barrington, which was published this week, analyses a number of incidents relating to the Corrib gas dispute in 2008 and 2009.

It is critical of Shell, the Garda, I-RMS security, which is employed by Shell, the Department of Energy, the Private Security Authority of Ireland and a minority of protesters.

One of its many recommendations is that the Garda reinvestigate an alleged assault last year at the Corrib site on Rossport farmer Willie Corduff.

Security company I-RMS said the Front Line report must be amended to include the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) recent finding that there were no grounds for criminal prosecution in the Corduff case.