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Dublin: Front Line launches "Breakdown of Trust: a Report on the Corrib Gas Dispute"
Front Line today called for a review of policies and practices by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) as the organisation launched a report: Breakdown of Trust: a Report on the Corrib Gas Dispute written by Brian Barrington BL. The report also raises concerns about the police response to the assault on Willie Corduff on 22/23 April 2009 and the vetting of private security personnel.
“Based on independent research into the policing of incidents related to protests in 2008 and 2009, and conscious of the very difficult role the Garda Síochána have had to play, we believe that it was a serious error that a previous Minister for Justice vetoed such a GSOC Review,” said Front Line Deputy Director, Andrew Anderson, “and indeed that the power to veto such a review is a major weakness in the system.”
“This report is not – and does not claim to be – a full investigation of all incidents that occurred in the dispute. In many cases the purpose was to record allegations of human rights abuses. In some cases it was possible to draw conclusions on the basis of which the report also makes recommendations for the future”, said Brian Barrington BL, author of the report.
“The report concludes that there is a situation of human rights' defence to which the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders is applicable. The report highlights a number of concerns in relation to the policing of the protests in the Rossport area and the conduct of private security agents” said Mr Barrington.
In particular, the report identifies concerns regarding the failure to permit the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to undertake an investigation into certain policies and practices of the Garda Síochána regarding the Corrib gas dispute. The fact that the Minister for Justice can withhold consent to such an investigation is a major weakness in the system;-
In view of the findings of this report, it is also recommended that the GSOC seek again to conduct a policies and practices investigation into the policing of the Corrib gas dispute.
Specific issues for investigation would include:
- how human rights issues are mainstreamed in practice;
- how the duty to act impartially is given effect;
- how legal advice is sought and acted on;
- public order training;
- performance in public order situations, including the use of force;
- the use of public order powers in civil law disputes;
- the wearing of identification;
- timing and practice in connection with the service of summonses and the bringing of prosecutions, particularly in matters where complaints have been brought to the GSOC; and the keeping of records.
The report notes that there have been a number of incidents where it would appear that the Garda Síochána, have failed to take issues raised by protesters and residents seriously – even when they have had the law on their side.
The report also notes that Garda personnel have at times faced great hostility and have been placed in a very difficult position with regard to trying to ensure the rule of law, both in terms of the right to peaceful protest and in terms of the rights of workers and companies to proceed about their lawful business. It is clear that there has been a breakdown in trust between the police and some members of the local community.
“It is inevitable in such circumstances that the police will be extremely sensitive to any allegations against them, but this is precisely why it is so important that there is an investigation of Garda policies and practices by the GSOC” said Andrew Anderson.
In a meeting with Front Line prior to the launch of the report, the Garda Síochána highlighted the fact that they had already agreed to the request to appoint a liaison officer on monitoring and were open to further discussion on how this could be implemented in an effective way.
Front Line urges all concerned parties to review carefully the recommendations contained in this report and hopes that they can provide a basis for a strengthened protection of the right to peaceful protest and the defence of human rights in the context of the Corrib gas dispute. Ends
For further information please contact:
Jim Loughran, Head of Media and Communications 087 9377586 firstname.lastname@example.org
Conor McGuinness, Media and Communications Dept. 087 9345603 email@example.com
Full text of the report is attached.