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Garda given incorrect information before protest took place

Irish Times

THE GARDA at the centre of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission decision had been given incorrect information before the Pollathomas protest took place, and said at the time that he was unaware that a solicitor for the landowner was trying to contact him by telephone.

Shell had notified Mayo County Council on June 8th, 2007, that it intended to use Pollathomas pier for crews involved in a survey of Sruwaddacon estuary, and that it proposed erecting a temporary “office” on the pier.

On the same day, Mayo County Council gave the company approval for this, and a copy of this letter was given to the garda.

However, it transpired that access to the pier was via a privately owned road, and the landowner had not given Shell EP Ireland permission.

The original public right of way was virtually washed away in the Pollathomas landslide of September 2003.

When contractors arrived to place the portacabin on the pier, under Garda escort, the landowner sought assistance from neighbours.

The lock was removed from his gate, and residents then sought to block access by a JCB and a landrover.

The following day, the landowner’s solicitor informed Shell that it had trespassed on private property and requested that the portacabin be removed.

Shell expressed “regret” that a “number of Shell to Sea protesters attempted to physically prevent access to Pollathomas pier, which was public”.

However, the company removed the portacabin several days later, and did not respond to further correspondence from the landowner’s solicitor.

Shell expressed “regret” for the distress caused to the landowner.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times