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New Super in Belmullet

AS the newly-appointed Garda chief for the Belmullet district, Superintendent John Gilligan, faces his first possible face-to-face experience of the ongoing Corrib protests, with a Day of Solidarity scheduled for next Friday (October 12), he has stressed his priority is public order and traffic management. Supt Gilligan, a native of County Cork, told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), that while he respected ‘the rights of decent people to hold peaceful protests’, he would be ‘very disappointed’ if there were attempts to break the law by, for example, trespassing on private property.“My approach will be based on law and procedure and rights to protest. I certainly won’t be standing back and allowing gardaí to be pushed aside while people break the law,” he said. He confirmed that if indications were that the planned protest was going to escalate beyond a peaceful gathering, he would certainly implement a strategy to ensure order was maintained. “I am very conscious of all the issues that are ongoing here, as well as the fact that Shell is trying to operate a business,” he said. “We have a job to do and that is normal policing.”Meanwhile, Shell to Sea spokesman, Mr John Monaghan, has called on the new superintendent to ‘initiate a hands-off approach’ to the Solidarity Day and the protests in general. “This community is in a private dispute with a private company. Of course, we expect the rule of law to be applied. But the guards have been here now for a year, and no one has been charged for trespass. We hope the use of summary justice and [the wielding of] batons is stopped,” said Mr Monaghan. Mr Monaghan dismissed as ‘speculation’ a report last week that Shell consultants, RPS, had decided on a preferred route for the controversial Corrib pipeline. RPS has stated the preferred route will not be announced until the end of the year.Last week Shell to Sea held an all-night-vigil to mark October 3, the first anniversary of Shell’s return to work at the proposed Bellanaboy refinery site. In another development, Minister for Energy, Éamon Ryan announced terms for oil and gas exploration in the Porcupine Basin, which will be subject to recently-announced tax terms. Shell to Sea has claimed the large site at Bellanaboy will be a hub for all offshore gas development. Department of Energy estimates suggest the potential of the Atlantic margin, which also includes the Slyne/Erris/Donegal basins, could be at least ten billion barrels worth €455 billion

Posted Date: 
9 October 2007 - 2:05pm