Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (402)

Finian McGrath

Question:

402. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will support an independent inquiry into policing of the Corrib gas project as proposed by Action for Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14935/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Significant protest activity over a number of years has occurred in the North Mayo area connected with the development of a very important natural resource. This has necessitated the temporary redeployment of large numbers of Gardaí, including specially trained personnel, from throughout the Western Region into the Belmullet District.

It is deeply regrettable that so many Garda resources have to be tied up in the policing of protest activity at this location. However, this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors, many of whom, as I have said previously, are not from the area and engage in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated. The aim of the policing measures currently in place is to prevent public order offences and to ensure that people can go about their lawful business.

The Deputy may wish to note that from 2011 to 2013, 38 defendants were brought before the courts for public order offences, criminal damage and assault on Gardaí. The total cost of policing these protests has now reached in excess of €16m. This does not include the significant cost of the basic salaries of the members of An Garda Siochana who have performed duties at the Corrib Gas Project as these arise in the normal course. Such expenditure comes at a time of economic difficulty for the State and when such resources could be put to far better use elsewhere.

While the Garda role in policing the Corrib protests has given rise to a number of complaints being made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, it should be borne in mind that the majority of these were either found to be inadmissible or not to disclose wrongdoing on the part of the members of the force complained about. Given these circumstances I do not see a necessity for an independent inquiry into the policing operation in north County Mayo.