“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
Spare a thought for Belmullet businessman Pat Cowman who was named in the Revenue's latest list of tax defaulters for filing incorrect VAT returns at his company, Henman Developments Ltd. Pat, who is well known in Mayo because of his links to Shell Oil and the Corrib gas field, reached a settlement with the taxman over the offence for a meagre €4,000.
Cowman owns and operates another company called Belcross Enterprises Ltd in Belmullet, a boat operator that was subcontracted by Shell to oversee "health and safety" on Broadhaven Bay. Activists protesting the laying of the pipe from Glengad Beach to the gas field in 2013 paddled kayaks out into the bay to disrupt the operations but reported being headed off by boats, including the Macbel, which is owned by Belcross.
Cowman was one of seven local businessmen who formed the Erris Local Contractor's Association and in 2011 welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the final section of the gas pipeline. The good news for Pat is that his work with Shell, ensuring health and safety on Broadhaven Bay, seems to have been lucrative for him, with Belcross reporting accumalated profits of €4.7m at the end of 2014 in its last filed set of accounts, filed 12 months ago