UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has said she is concerned about the challenges faced by those protesting the Corrib Gas project in Mayo.
Sekaggya was speaking in Dublin today at the end of her five day visit to Ireland.
The special rapporteur met with a delegation of ten people on Wednesday which included seven members of Shell to Sea.
She said she was concerned about “the situation and challenges faced by defenders and activists defending the right to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, particularly those peacefully protesting against the Corrib Gas project”.
“There is tangible frustration amongst local residents who are standing up for their rights and feel powerless, isolated and have lost trust in public institutions”, she said.
In a statement today Shell to Sea said it raised many issues of concern at the meeting;
…including violence by the Gardaí, behaviour of the private security, the democratic deficit in the planning process, surveillance and harassment, selectivity in the application of the law, the undermining and stigmatisation of campaigners by the judiciary, the politicisation of the judicial process and the ineffectiveness of designated oversight bodies in particular the Garda Ombudsman.
Sekaggya said she received “credible reports indicating the existence of a pattern of criminalization of what has mostly been a peaceful protest movement, including acts of non-compliance and passive resistance”.
Today Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said communities in Ireland have no protection when they find themselves in the path of experimental oil and gas projects.
“We have been abused and ignored by most institutions of the state and left to defend our rights at huge personal risk,” he said.
“We hope that this report by an independent international expert will make it more difficult for the Irish State to hide it’s domestic record on human rights.”