The publication of a Frontline human rights report on the Corrib gas dispute is a damning indictment of human rights abuses that have been suffered by campaigners against a high-pressure gas pipeline and refinery on the coast of county Mayo.
The report 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 has raised awareness of the abuses being carried out in the construction of the Shell gas project and outlines a comprehensive list of recommendations to attempt to improve the situation.
The Frontline report is highly critical of Shell, the Garda, the IRMS security agency which is employed by Shell, the Department of Energy, and the Private Security Authority of Ireland. It particularly highlights the overzealous use of force against protesters by the Gardai and IRMS, and the attempts to cover this up through false statements to the media, and even the compiler of the report.
One of its many recommendations is that the Garda reinvestigate the reported assault last year at the Corrib site on Rossport farmer Willie Corduff.
Community group Pobal Chill Chomain said many of the issues raised by the Frontline report could have been avoided and it welcomed recognition that peaceful protesters could be classified as human rights defenders.
The Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan welcomed the report, but did not say whether any action would be taken on foot of it.
“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.”
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said the report was a “contribution to the debate” 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.
Shell also admitted that it had faced difficulties in the construction of the high-pressure pipeline, which faces overwhelming local opposition over the damage to the environment and the danger of a catastrophic explosion.
“The regulations relating to the Corrib gas project are enormously complex, involving multiple consents under different legislation, from several Government departments, multiple statutory agencies and the local authority in Mayo,” Shell said.
“We devote an enormous amount of time and resources to complying with the regulations relating to all aspects of the development of the pipeline and the terminal site. We are committed to doing everything possible to fully comply with these regulations at all times. Whenever an unforeseen issue has arisen, we have moved quickly to ensure full compliance as quickly as possible.”
The full report is available online at https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/corrib_gas_report.pdf