It is an outrage that Pat O’Donnell finds himself in prison at all. He is a victim of the criminalisation of decent people involved in peaceful protest in Erris.
“Having traveled from Dublin on Friday to visit Pat O’Donnell in Castlerea Prison, I was encouraged by Pat stating that he was well treated and well respected by prison staff. However it is an outrage that Pat O’Donnell finds himself in prison at all. He is a victim of the criminalisation of decent people involved in peaceful protest in Erris which highlights the handover of an entire natural resource to a multinational corporation with not a cent in royalties for the Irish people.
“Many arms of the State from the political establishment through the Garda to the judiciary have combined to have the Shell project foisted on a community which has grave fears for its safety arising from a high pressure gas pipeline. In so doing they compound the original outrageous decision by Fianna Fail to hand the Corrib gas field to this company having no independent analysis of its potential yield. What this means is that this gas might as well be bought in from Siberia as far as the Irish taxpayer is concerned. it means that this natural resource will simply enrich a major private corporation instead of being used to boost public services and finance public projects.
“It was a scurrilous slander for a Circuit Court Judge to describe Pat O’Donnell in court as a ‘thug’ and ‘bully’. In fact he is a decent fisherman who has refused substantial sums of money that Shell has paid out to smooth its path and chose instead to stand against a project that could have deeply damaging consequences for the local environment and the safety of the local community. It was particularly vindictive to give Pat O’Donnell consecutive sentences lengthening his time in prison to seven months.
“The Irish political establishment stands condemned by the whole Corrib gas saga. The anti-social criminals known as speculators and big bankers whose lust for super profits crashed the Irish economy with disastrous consequences for ordinary people and for society in general. Not one of them has been before a criminal court. But a local fisherman has the whole force of the State mobilised against him to achieve a manufactured conviction and a jail sentence because he stands for community benefit over private greed.
“Pat O’Donnell should be released forthwith. The contract with Shell should be torn up. The State should establish an Oil and Gas Exploration and Recovery Company which like the creation of State companies in the past such as the ESB and Bord na Mona could develop resources for the benefit of society. “