Shell to Sea Submission on Policing Reform – 31st January 2018
Shell to Sea has over a decade of experience of dealing with An Garda Siochana as they policed the Corrib Gas protests.
The Corrib Gas protests are the single largest source of Garda complaints that GSOC have had to deal with although no Garda has ever been held to account for their law-breaking and abuse of powers. To help in the quest on policing reform we have come up with a list of don’ts – followed by our observations on which our list of don’ts is based:
List of Don’ts·
· Don’t be surprised that after you promote violent Gardaí, that they use violence.
· Don’t be surprised that after you promote Gardaí who have a tendency to lie, that they don’t tell you the truth.
· Don’t allow Gardaí claiming to be suffering from PTSD, to continue policing the people they say caused the PTSD.
· Don’t waste alcohol breathalysers. If you need to bump up the figures, use them on Gardaí going to police early morning protests, use them on Gardaí going to police early morning protests.
· Don’t exclude the possibility of arresting people at a protest situation – let at least one or two become martyrs. Invoke laws and charges instead of violence being your default position.
· Don’t hold people under water when policing on water
· Don’t accept (drink) bribes, especially on behalf of one party to a conflict that Gardaí are policing.
· Don’t be passing drink from private companies to the Gardaí on the Athlone by-pass.
· Don’t allow private security to set up their own road-blocks and be illegally detaining people they don’t like.
· Don’t use heavy equipment to “drive the f**kers into the sea”
· Don’t talk about raping protestors you have just arrested.
· Don’t use corporate facilities as processing and holding cells for protestors
· Don’t collude between officers to copy and fix statements of events for court
· Don’t lie in court.· Don’t rob bicycles off people.
· Don’t have road blocks that are just for some people, depending on their political views.
· Don’t collude with paramilitaries, security forces
· Don’t be telling the media you’re looking for fellows with balaclavas when they are right beside you.
· Don’t be surprised that if you are sending signals to Gardaí that they have diplomatic immunity that they believe they can do what they want.
· Don’t pull people off drill rigs at sea or protest occupations on land just to save time.
· Don’t arrest people for fishing just because a company wants to lay some pipes while they are gone.
· Don’t say to people “You are entitled to be a citizen but not here”.
· Don’t just deal with public order issues when there are other breaches of the law right in front of you.
· Don’t allow undercover British police to come and monitor campaigners and then go off and sell information to private companies.
· Don’t allow Gardaí to be prosecuting campaigners one week and then join private companies that the campaigners were opposing the next week.
These are some observations from experience of the way An Garda Siochana deal with protest:- Gardaí repeatedly used violence rather than legal mechanisms in dealing with peaceful protest. In the November 2006 issue of the Garda Review, Supt. Joe Gannon stated what his policy was “There were no arrests. That was part of our strategy: we did not want to facilitate anyone down there with a route to martyrdom. That has been the policy ever since.” 
– In a lot of situations Gardaí escalated the tension and brought violence as their first response to protest. Indeed, in October 2006, Gardaí caused the public order scenario by moving campaigners from private Shell land out onto the public road. What should have been a private civil matter to be adjudicated on in court was thus manipulated into becoming a public order scenario.
– The same Gardaí were involved in policing the protest in some cases for over a decade despite some Gardaí showing increasing animosity towards campaigners. In a 2011 libel case now-retired Sergeant James Gill claimed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress from the comments made at a 2006 protest. Despite claiming to be suffering from post-traumatic stress he continued to be an active and very violent member of the Gardaí policing the Corrib Gas protests. In 2011, he retired in the aftermath of being recorded talking with other Gardaí about raping protestors that they had just arrested .
– One of main reasons for so much of the dysfunction in the Gardaí is the people that are promoted. During the Corrib Gas protests, they Gardaí that we have seen promoted have been the Gardaí who used the most violence, lied the most in court and had the most GSOC complaints against them. For example in 2016, it was announced that Detective Sergeant Gary Walsh and Sergeant Dermot Butler were to be promoted to the rank of Inspector . Our experience of both these Gardaí has been of verbally abusing, using violence and telling lies in court about campaigners. Certainly in the case of Dermot Butler, he has had many GSOC complaints made against him. When this type of behaviour is rewarded then of course it will be emulated by other Gardaí.
– It is clear to both campaigners and Gardaí that the GSOC has been totally useless in holding Garda to account for abuse of powers in how they police protests. Gardaí have even mocked campaigners about the uselessness of putting in complaints to GSOC.- Shell to Sea has previously called for GSOC to be dissolved. Former GSOC Commissioner Conor Brady has stated that he too believes the Garda Síochána Act 2005 “was fundamentally flawed”. Recently GSOC has again sought more powers from the Dept of Justice and repeatedly say that they are understaffed. Both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Frontline Defenders have recommended that Section 106 of the GSA Act 2005 be repealed; this section allowed the Minister for Justice to veto GSOC doing a “practice, policy or procedure” investigation in the policing of Corrib.
– Gardaí used Shell compounds as their local base of operations at different times. Campaigners were arrested in public places and then brought to Shell compounds and held for up to 2 hours on Shells land.
– At various times, Gardaí allowed Shell’s private security contractors to set up road-blocks on public roads and direct traffic as they saw fit.
– Gardaí also turned a blind eye to Shell’s private security contractors detaining campaigners for prolonged periods.- After being arrested on the public road, a number of the protestors were then driven into the nearby Shell compound where the Gardaí had established their local base, and held for up to 2 hours there.
– Shell subcontractor OSSL have testified in court to having delivered £25,000-worth of alcohol to gardaí in 2007 on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland. Co-owner of OSSL, Neil Rooney stated that he personally delivered two thirds of it to Belmullet Garda Station and he named the gardaí who he gave the alcohol to. The rest, he said, was to be delivered to the Garda Sub Aqua Unit in Athlone. Rooney has also stated that he heard Supt Joe Gannon state that he wanted “to drive the f**kers [protesters] into the sea.” at a protest at Pollathomais in 2007. He was then pressured by a Shell manager to change his statement on the protest because “our man” and “had to be protected at all costs”.
– The Table Observers’ Report No. 2 deals with a week of special sittings of Belmullet Disrict court in March 2010. In all 27 campaigners were up in court that week and the charges were either withdrawn or dismissed for all but 2 of the people.- Pat O’Donnell and his son Jonathan had crab pots in Broadhaven Bay in both 2008 & 2009 and refused to move them despite the Solitaire’s wish to lay their pipeline through the area where the O’Donnell’s crab-pots lay. On a number of occasions, Gardaí arrested the fishermen under dubious public order offences (including loitering in the area) so that Shell could lay their pipes. The charges were then either not brought or else dropped before the hearing (despite Jonathan O’Donnell even being remanded in custody on one occasion).- It is known that undercover British police officer, Mark Kennedy operated in Ireland intermittently for a number of years including monitoring Shell to Sea in March 2006. It is suspected that after leaving the British police Mark Kennedy provided information on protesters to energy companies .
Shell to Sea Universal Periodic Review submission – 6th October 2011http://www.shelltosea.com/content/shell-sea-universal-periodic-review-submission