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Former UN official critical of action by gardaí to control anti-Corrib protestors

Irish Times

Monday, October 27, 2008


THE METHODS used by gardaí to control anti-Corrib gas protesters was “ugly”, according to a former UN official. And the failure by the Government to find settlement on the issue “disappoints”.

Former United Nations assistant secretary general Denis Halliday strongly criticised Government, the gardaí and Shell at an Afri (Action from Ireland) Hedge School, entitled “Pipeline and Profits, People under Pressure”, and held over the weekend in Glenamoy, Co Mayo.

Addressing the subject of “Dialogue – The Art of the Possible”, Mr Halliday placed the ongoing Corrib gas controversy in the context of his many postings in war-torn dictatorships – countries which include 1960s Kenya and Iran.

“Ireland is not a police state. But the methods used by our Garda to protect the best interests of that aggressive corporate giant Shell are ugly,” he said.

“This on-the-ground privatisation of Irish natural resources appals.

“The roughshod neglect of the community angers. And the ineffectiveness of Government to resolve the issues – disappoints,” said Mr Halliday.

Ethical government and corporate cultures was a universal desire, he argued.

All over the world people wanted the same thing, said Mr Halliday, governments that show signs of caring and corporations that are of the people not of “the exploiters, the white collar criminals”.

“We want investment in and for people, not profit-making. We need investors that understand the community is to be served, not exploited,” he continued.

He also observed there is “something very wrong when capitalism is allowed to undermine the idea of equality, justice and representative government”.

Mr Halliday, who resigned from the UN to be free to speak on the impact of economic sanctions imposed on the people of Iraq in 1990, also alluded to Shannon airport as “a foreign base” which helped American military violence for the control of foreign oil resources.

He concluded that “sincerity” underpinned true dialogue and the acid test of “non-violent resolution” was that there was no subsequent rancour and “enemies became friends”.

Speaking from the same platform, Catríona Ruane, Minister for Education in the Northern Ireland Assembly, detailed her experiences in conflict resolution and the integral need for dialogue, which had come late to the northern conflict.

She said “the instinct of the State is to discriminate” and that is why human rights should always be pivotal to any country’s political agenda.

“We should not think that the conflict is over [in the north]. The interfaces will shift and move, there are still imbalances,” said Ms Ruane, stressing the core importance of education for the next generation.

Chairman of local community business group, Pobal Le Chéile, Ciarán Ó Murchú said the time for a solution was now.

He advocated a “no blame approach” which would separate the people issues from the core problem issues.

Proceedings at yesterday’s sessions were adjourned for a candlelit ceremony to mark the sudden death of traditional musician Peter Galligan, who died suddenly after playing at the school on Saturday night.

© 2008 The Irish Times


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