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International Delegation and Local Priests Support Rossport Men
Mon 19 May 2008 06:39 pm filed by the Editor - Ireland
Fishermen's Fight for Freedom Continues in Court Battle on Day of Shell AGM (Rossport, County Mayo, Ireland)
Three Rossport fishermen who were battered by Garda during a peaceful march in full view of witnesses and independent cameramen will have their appeal heard in court in Castelbar, Tuesday May 20, 2008. Local priests and an International delegation have joined in support of the men and the local resistance to the Shell pipeline and refinery. On the same date, May 20th, neighbors of Shell will protest at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in both London and Holland.
In 2007, the Global Community Monitor led an international delegation from South Africa, Holland and the USA to Rossport and witnessed the brutal behavior of the Garda towards peaceful protestors. The delegation issued an independent report documenting the Garda actions and the widespread feelings of residents that their community is "under siege." The report is available on the web at: http://www.gcmonitor.org/article.php?id=598.
Since that date the European Union and the Garda Ombudsman have confirmed the report and recommended action to change the Garda policy of non-arrest and the tactics of beating protestors. Recently the Irish Courts have upheld the complaints of protestors by dismissing legal actions against Ed Collins, calling the police allegations "confusing."
"All of this violence and struggle by the Garda at the urging of Shell is unnecessary," said Denny Larson, Director of Global Community Monitor.
"Had Shell chosen the right location for their pipeline and refinery, they would have full community support and this struggle would not exist."
Local priests are supporting the fishermen, Fathers Michael Mallen and Sean Noone have submitted a letter to the Court stating: "Having been ignored in the efforts to protect the marine ecology and fish life, the community felt their was no other option to highlighting their grievance other than public protest. It was for participating in that worth cause that Patrick O'Donnell, Jonathan O'Donnell and Enda Carey are charged."
Civil Servants who have worked with Pat O'Donnell have taken issue with the Garda's characterization of him as someone capable of attacking the police. For example, Mr. Pat Burke, former Sea Fishery Officer at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said in a letter to the Court: "In circumstances where he disagreed, I found him to be up front, measured proportionate and helpful, avoiding incitement of others and directed toward resolution. In my dealings with him, I found him honest and straight forward."
"We've brought from South Africa our full support for these fishermen. We are not strangers to fighting for free speech and for the police to protect our rights instead of Shell's," said Desmond D'sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA). Mr. D'sa is a neighbor of Shell's massive refinery in South Durban, which began as a small operation and has grown to be the largest on the African continent.