Shell protester given suspended sentence after Pullathomas protest
A Corrib gas protester received a 12-month suspended prison term for his involvement in a protest that turned violent at the Shell compound in Pullathomas in 2013.
Paul Lynch of Captain House, Scilly, Kinsale, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to violent disorder at Castlebar Circuit Court last week.
The court heard that on June 23, 2013, Mr Lynch, a qualified engineer with no previous convictions, was among a group of 40 protestors who entered the Shell compound in Pullathomas.
Garda Martha Lohan said the situation turned ‘volatile and dangerous’ as security staff at the compound were outnumbered and had to retreat to an inner compound. The security staff then attempted to secure the inner compound from protestors as this was where most of the expensive equipment was located.
Garda Lohan said a large amount of equipment had been damaged in the outer section of the compound, with damages initially costed at over €100,000. This figure was later reduced to €21,500 following repairs.
The court was told that among the equipment damaged was a camera sensor, which Mr Lynch had damaged with a wooden bat.
Garda Lohan said a number of ‘missiles’ were thrown over the inner compound where she and security staff were located. One security guard suffered a broken bone in his hand as a result of the incident.
“Rocks, debris and equipment were thrown over the fence. It was very dangerous, no one had a hard hat,” said the garda. The damaged sensor camera was among those objects thrown. However, Garda Lohan said it was not clear who had thrown it.
The cost of fixing the camera was €623. Defending barrister Michael Bowman SC said the protest had escalated quickly and that there were ‘pockets of people behaving in a violent manner’.
Mr Bowman said his client was motivated by ‘genuine concern for the environment’ and did not participate to ‘cause mayhem’. He informed the court that his client was currently studying Sustainable Horticulture in Kinsale and that a conviction would compromise his chances of employment.
Before sentencing Mr Lynch to a one-year suspended prison term, Judge Melanie Greally said she was concerned that Lynch had a wooden bat in his possession.
Judge Greally told Mr Lynch she commended people who stood up for their principles, but added that this must be done in accordance with the law. The judge said she accepted that Mr Lynch was not a ‘career protestor’ and was ‘decent and hardworking’.