Shell denies plot to sink anti-Corrib man's boat
A fisherman who is vehemently opposed to the Corrib Gas project claimed yesterday that his 40ft trawler was deliberately sunk by men armed with handguns who sneaked aboard the vessel off Erris Head in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Gardai say they are investigating the claims of crab fisherman Patrick O'Donnell.
They are also investigating an incident which occurred at the same time in which up to 14 people in kayaks attempted to approach a Shell-contracted dredger in Glengad Bay.
Shell E&P Ireland denied yesterday that any of its workers were involved in the sinking of the Iona Isle -- registered to Mr O'Donnell's son, Jonathan.
Mr O'Donnell said that he and his crewman Martin McDonnell were at sea, off Erris Head, at around 2am when the Iona Isle was boarded.
He added: "I was in the wheelhouse when four men wearing diving gear . . . came on board. Two of them had handguns. Some of the men went into the engine room where they must have burst a plank. I could feel the boat getting heavy. I knew we were sinking."
Mr O'Donnell said the intruders left in an inflatable rib while he and his colleague abandoned their sinking vessel.
A statement issued by the Erris Community Groups, Pobal Chill Chomain and Pobal Le Cheile, said: "This outrage involved the forced boarding of his fishing boat by masked intruders, the false imprisonment of Pat O'Donnell and his fellow fisherman Martin McDonnell, and the use of force."
In a statement emphatically rejecting any suggestion of involvement by its employees in the sinking of the Iona Isle, Shell E&P Ireland claimed that a number of malicious allegations had been made against the corporation and its security contractors in recent weeks.
Such claims had no basis in fact, said Shell. The statement said Shell was "committed" to the Corrib project, which it described as being of "strategic importance" to Ireland.