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O’Brien condemns €14.5 million policing operation for Shell

9 February, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking after it emerged that the cost of the garda presence at Bellanaboy Shell Refinery has cost over €14.5million since 2006, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien called on the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to immediately examine these exorbitant costs.

The Cork North Central TD said;

“These figures were supplied by the Minister for Justice in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Sinn Féin. In his response, the Minister blamed the high costs on the actions of the protestors.

“It is wholly unacceptable to blame these costs on a community who are exercising their democratic right to protest, and it is somewhat arrogant to suggest that the people engaged in such protests are there as a form of ‘self-indulgent’ ‘protest tourism’ – as if people would risk life and limb where there are extremely heavy handed gardaí present, for the craic. Time and again there have been questions raised regarding garda activity in Mayo and no adequate answers have ever been given.

“The fact that the state has paid this enormous amount of money to help Shell to build a pipeline against the wishes of the community is disgraceful, particularly when the minister and the Garda Commissioner are seeking ways to shut down rural Garda stations.

“It is our view that Shell should have to shoulder these costs and not the Irish taxpayer. The whole area of provision of gardaí for non-public duty activities at a significant cost to the Irish tax payer is one that should be reviewed immediately.

“The minister’s response to this question and the attitude he has displayed towards those protesting is typical of this government. Any form of questioning of the State is viewed as illegitimate as far as he is concerned. It shows a massive amount of disrespect towards those with legitimate and well-founded concerns.” ENDS


DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Peadar Tóibín
for ORAL on Tuesday, 7th February, 2012.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost to him of the Garda presence at Bellanaboy Shell Refinery, County Mayo, each year since 2006; the cost to date with a breakdown of the Garda ranks, the salaries paid including basic salary, overtime, transfer allowance and so on; the projected costs of this exercise; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Peadar Tóibín

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the additional costs arising for the Gardaí from the policing operation of the Shell Refinery project at Bellanaboy from 2006 to December 2011 is €14,566,262. I am enclosing a detailed breakdown of the figures as a tabular statement with this reply. The figures do not include the basic salaries as these are incurred in the normal course as part of Garda rostered hours. It is not possible to further break down the figures into the various ranks without the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

I am further advised by the Garda authorities that they are not in a position to provide projected costs in relation to future policing operations at the Shell Refinery. Those operations arise from the need for the Gardaí to respond to protest action in the vicinity of the gas terminal in order to prevent public order offences, to enable persons to go unimpeded to and from their place of work and to enable the construction of the refinery and pipeline to be completed. The level of protest activity fluctuates and as such a projection of likely costs is not possible.

It is deeply regrettable that so much Garda resources have to be tied up at the North Mayo site. However this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors - many of whom are not from the area and who engage in a form of protest tourism - who have engaged in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated and the Garda presence is there to prevent it.

The House will appreciate that, at a time when many people are under severe financial pressure because of our very difficult economic circumstances, it is scandalous that some protesters behave in a self indulgent way that has no regard for the rights of others. In turn, this requires the expenditure of a substantial amount of taxpayers' money which could be devoted to far better purposes if it was not for the actions of many of those involved in the protests.

In addition, this type of behaviour runs completely contrary to the public and national interest and furthermore will act as a disincentive to inward investment and the development of our national resources.

An Garda Síochána have my full support in taking all necessary action within the law to deal with their activities.

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