Bolivia, booze and rape tape raised by defence
Scandals that have plagued the Corrib gas saga were raised during the first week of the trial of two protesters, Gerry Bourke and Liam Heffernan, which started last Tuesday.
When cross examined by Brendan Nix, SC for Mr Bourke and Conor Dignam, SC for Mr Heffernan, the prosecution witnesses were often asked if they knew why the protesters were opposed to the project.
Mr Dignam accused Jim Farrell, the director of security company Senaca Group, of being ‘deliberately evasive’ when answering the question. Mr Farrell said they [the protesters] were ‘good people’ but that he had a job to do and did not want to get involved in local politics.
Sgt Martha Lohan, who is stationed in Belmullet, said the protesters were entitled to object to the project, but she added that it was not her concern to know the reasons for the protests. She said she had faith the project would be done to high standards.
Senaca Group was known as IRMS before 2010. The trial heard that Michael Dwyer, the Tipperary man killed by police in Bolivia worked for IRMS on the Corrib gas project in 2008, along with Tibor Révész, who Mr Nix said was described as a Romanian neo-Nazi.
Mr Nix asked Jim Farrell, who is also a former Irish Army Ranger, about the background checks that the company used in employing personnel on the Corrib project.
Mr Farrell said that up to 2009 there were no method of background checks in the security industry until regulation was introduced by the Private Security Authority. He said that since then his company was described as the ‘most compliant company in Ireland’.
When asked if he was aware Mr Révész was a neo-Nazi, he replied ‘not to my knowledge’, adding he was only employed on seasonal work and was let go after five or six months.
Mr Nix asked whether it was a coincidence that three months after the Bolivian President nationalised a stake Shell owned in a Bolivian gas pipeline, two employees of IRMS arrived in the country. Mr Farrell said he had never had any involvement in Bolivia at any time.
“The individuals involved were no longer employed and were stood down after five or six months of seasonal work. I never seen them before and I’ve never seen them since,” he told the court.
Ionat Ghita, a Romanian national said he knew both Mr Dwyer and Mr Révész but denied the killing was discussed by the other employees. ‘Not at all, nobody spoke about it’. He added all he knew about the killings was what was in the newspapers.
Gardaí and former gardaí were also asked by defence counsel about their knowledge of an investigation regarding the gardaí who were involved in the ‘rape tape’ controversy.
That controversy arose in 2011 when gardaí were recorded talking about protesters and one joked about raping a female protester. Detective Garda Noel Brett, who served in Belmullet until his recent retirement, was asked by Mr Nix about how he felt about the controversy, and he replied ‘I have my own views on it’.
Retired superintendent Pat Doyle was also asked about the incident. He replied that he had retired at the time of the incident and his only knowledge of it was from the media. He said he could not comment on something he was not party to but admitted he did not think the comments were ‘appropriate’.
The allegation that Shell delivered a gift of €35,000 worth of alcohol to Belmullet Garda station was also raised by Mr Nix with Detective Garda Gerry Lee. He said he was aware of the allegation and there was an investigation. That was all he knew, he said. When asked if he was not curious to know what happened, he replied he was not curious as he was dealing with a murder investigation.”