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Commissioner salutes Shell to Sea gardai

GARDA Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has told those policing the Shell to Sea protest that the vast majority of locals support their work.

The commissioner met the gardai at Belmullet station in Co Mayo after a difficult week, in which there were clashes with protesters at Glengad and one of the gardai was later killed in an unrelated road traffic accident.

He said people had the right to stage protests at Glengad and Bellanaboy, but their activities must be within the rule of law, which had to be upheld by the gardai. A major policing operation is due to be launched there next month when Shell begin laying a pipeline at sea.

Commenting on the deaths of Garda Terence Dever and local teenager Stephen Conway, the commissioner said the double tragedy had brought grief and shock to the entire community. He offered his sympathies to their families.

Meanwhile, the specialist pipe-laying ship 'Solitaire' will return to the area in less than a month.

It had previously attempted to begin pipe-laying work off shore last September, but had to abandon it after its equipment was damaged in high winds. The pipeline will be extended to the shore and then laid underground to the Shell refinery.

Garda reinforcements are expected to be backed up by a Naval Service vessel and security personnel to prevent further attempts by demonstrators to block the work.

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