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Garda resources at Bellanaboy should be redeployed into fight against crime – Ó Snodaigh

11 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has slammed the extent of the Garda operation at Bellanaboy County Mayo after it was revealed that €8.1million has been spent to date on Garda resources to police demonstrations against the Shell Gas pipeline. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said these valuable Garda resources would be better deployed in the fight against crime.

Speaking today he said, "In response to a Sinn Féin Parliamentary question Justice Minister Brian Lenihan revealed that €8.1million has so far been spent on the operation to police the peaceful protests at Bellanaboy in County Mayo. It is our understanding that this figure may be even higher as it may not include all aspects of policing allocations such as overtime.

"The people of Mayo have the right to protest peacefully without being harassed by an overwhelming and unnecessary force of Gardaí. And make no mistake - they are not keeping peace in Bellanaboy - they are harassing and bullying protesters while supporting the multi-national corporation Shell.

"This is a completely irresponsible and wasteful use of valuable Garda resources. These resources would be much better used in the fight against serious drug and gun crime which is claiming lives on an almost weekly basis. I am calling on the Minister to review the Garda operation at Bellanaboy with a view to redeploying Gardaí to where they are most needed.

"There also needs to be a review of existing approaches to policing at demonstrations. This should include seeking external human rights expertise to roll out training for all Gardaí engaged in such policing. Gardaí should always endeavour to engage positively with the organisers of demonstrations prior to them taking place so that they can be facilitated with minimal Garda presence." ENDS

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