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Corrib opponent convicted of refusing to follow garda’s direction

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Corrib gas opponent convicted of refusing to follow garda’s direction


An opponent of the current Corrib gas project has been convicted under the Public Order Act following an anti-Shell protest earlier this year.
Terence Conway of Inver, Barnatra, contested the two charges before the court – refusing to comply with the direction of a garda and wilful obstruction.
On Wednesday last, Garda Seán McHale told Belmullet District Court that on June 11, 2013, he was made aware of a protest at Aughoose, Pullathomas, close to the entrance to the Rossport Solidarity Camp.
He said that upon arriving at the scene, he saw seven people – three males and four females – sitting on the road, linked to each other. They were blocking access for people working on the Corrib gas project, preventing them from moving from Glengad to sites at Aughoose and the gas terminal at Bellenaboy.
Garda McHale said he asked them to leave on two occasions, which they did not, and that on a third occasion, he directed them to leave and told them the consequences of refusing to comply with this order of a member of An Garda Síochána.
He told the court that 25 minutes after this final warning, Terence Conway was placed under arrest by Garda Shane Prendergast and brought to Belmullet Garda Station.
Defending himself, Terence Conway put it to Garda McHale that the directions were given to the protestors on the ground and not to Conway himself, who a video viewed in the court showed was recording the incident. He argued that the arrest was, therefore, unlawful as he himself had not being warned to move on.
Mr Conway told the court that the protest was against Shell traffic and that other traffic was allowed to pass. He said they told people driving vehicles who were working on the Corrib gas project that the protest was not against them directly and that those drivers were given DVDs outlining the concerns of protestors.
Conway claimed the Gardaí were carrying out ‘public relations propaganda’ for Shell and that it was the Gardaí’s hope that the court ‘will give this a seal of approval by convicting me’.
The video shown to the court shows Terence Conway standing and recording footage while Garda McHale gave the direction to protestors to move on. Mr Conway could be heard saying to the gardaí present at Aughoose, ‘Ye are pure trash. Ye are not here as gardaí but as thugs in uniform’.
Responding to Terence Conway’s application for a dismissal of the charges, Supt Joe McKenna said that Garda McHale’s direction was to everyone in the immediate vicinity of him, including Terence Conway, and not just the protestors on the ground.
Judge James Faughan said he was satisfied the state had proven both matters and returned a conviction on both. The court heard Conway had 13 previous convictions, one for road traffic and 12 for public order.
Judge James Faughan convicted and fined Conway €200 in respect of refusing to follow a garda’s direction. He took the obstruction charge into consideration.