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Press Release: Criminalisation of protest continues with sentencing to prison of three men

Today in Castlebar District Court, Pat O'Donnell, Martin McDonnell and Gary Bohan were given three 6-month prison sentences each (to be served concurrently) in relation to a protest in support of Maura Harrington, who was on hunger strike at the time. This continues a policy of criminalisation of the community for their protests against the imposition of this untreated high pressure pipeline on their area. 10 people have now been given prison sentences for their opposition to Shell. All three were released with leave to appeal on a bond.

 

This follows on from the jailing last Thursday of Maura Harrington for nine months for causing damage to a Shell net to the value of just 160 euro. Ms. Harrington refused to sign a bond to keep the peace due to the injustice of the sentence handed down by Judge Haughton, and this saw her suspended sentence activated. Ms. Harrington has since been released with leave to appeal her sentence.

 

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “These sentences continue the criminalisation of our community for our opposition to the unsafe Corrib Gas Project. Despite the vindication of many of our concerns by the recent announcement by An Bord Pleanala, we are still facing persecution from the Gardai and the judicial system.

 

“Martin McDonnell is a perfect example of the problems that have been brought upon this community by the arrival of Shell. He works on a small farm, looks after his dependent mother, and never had any issues with the law before the Corrib Gas Project, and the accompanying criminalisation of anyone who dares to raise their voices against it. He deserves better than this, but Shell's interests are being put above considerations like the health and safety of the community, and Ireland's ownership of our natural resources in Erris at the moment.”

 

He continued: “13 local people testified for the defendants, as opposed to three Gardai, who provided no independent evidence in court, despite having video cameras on them at the time. The Gardai, who have facilitated Shell in every way throughout the Corrib Gas Project, including using violence, should not be viewed as impartial in this process.”

 

ENDS

 

For verification or further comment, please contact:

Terence Conway

Maura Harrington