Corrib ‘rape tape’ was tampered with, Minister for Justice reveals

Week of protests in north Mayo to escalate with day of action today

It was revealed yesterday (Thursday ) that the so called Corrib ‘rape tape’ was tampered with and as a result the five gardaí at the centre of an investigation will not face criminal charges.

The controversial recording was released to the media following the arrest of two women at a protest in north Mayo in April. The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has said that one of the two women involved did not co-operate with the Garda Ombudsman’s investigation and an interim report has also revealed that three of the five gardaí took no active part in the contentious part of the conversation, and did not engage with the inappropriate comments or make any inappropriate comments themselves. The remaining two members of the force, a garda and a sergeant, remain the subject of a disciplinary inquiry.

Meanwhile hundreds of campaigners from around Ireland are expected in north Mayo today (Friday ) for a national day of action against Shell’s proposed inland refinery and onshore pipeline. The action is due to begin at 7am.

Work commenced in Aughoose last Friday on the controversial onshore section of the pipeline. The current works involve the setting up of a compound at Aughoose this summer with tunnelling work under Sruwaddacon Bay and the laying of the onshore section of the pipeline expected to commence in summer 2012 and continue for 22 months. Shell has said that 11 metres of pipeline will be laid each day during these works.

Today’s protest is in direct action against Shell’s works at Aughoose, and work has been obstructed each day by local people and supporters using lock-ons, tripods, and occupations.

Work was suspended Wednesday after campaigners locked to a cement-filled barrel blocked the road for the third successive day. One of those blocking the road, local woman Mary Walsh, said: “This is the start of a programme of direct action by Mayo women for the next two years. We have no other choice to protect our families.”

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins added: “Friday’s mass action will send a signal to Shell and the Government that opposition to this experimental project is as strong as ever.”

Yesterday (Thursday ) morning campaigners again successfully stopped the first haulage of the day from Shell’s refinery at Ballinaboy to the proposed tunnelling compound at Aughoose. Two people climbed on top of the tractor carrying materials for the construction site at 7.05am. The campaign continued throughout the day.

The first blockade lasted for over two hours. At 9.45am a tripod blockade was erected on the same stretch of road blocking Shell's haulage. Continuous blockades were expected until 7pm yesterday evening. Three arrests were made on Wednesday and it was unknown at the time of going to print whether there were arrests yesterday.

Shell has not commented on the protests but have admitted that traffic is the biggest issue for the company. The majority of the haul route has been upgraded by Mayo County Council with funding from the Corrib Gas Partners and a detailed traffic management plan, which has been approved by An Bord Pleanála, can be updated subject to Mayo County Council approval, according to Shell’s senior communications advisor Denise Horan. Shell has agreed that there will be no heavy commercial vehicle movements to Glengad during Pollathomas NS drop-off and collection times. HCV movements are also limited to between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday and between 8am and 4pm on Saturdays with no movement on Sundays and bank holidays. Movements are also restricted during funerals.

Local resident Betty Schultz, protesting yesterday morning at Ballinaboy, said: “Tomorrow’s day of action marks our continuing opposition to the disruption of the community and the unique environment we live in. Now is the time to support the community of Erris in their campaign. Ireland can’t afford to give away its natural resources.”

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