There was a shocking figure in yesterday’s Irish Times. According to figures in Fintan O Toole’s article, the police are spending almost as much of their budget on keeping protesters away from the Shell construction site as they spend in a whole year fighting organised crime in the whole country.
Think about that. Huge sums of tax money and millions of police hours are being spent policing people protesting against a private company.
A private company. People who object to the activities of a private foreign company are being arrested by our police.
How did this happen?
How did it come about that the law was changed so that people could be thrown off their land to let Shell and its partners build their pipeline? This was probably unconstitutional, but they got away with it, and when the farmers tried to stop their land being taken by this private company, they were jailed.
Ah, you might say. These farmers are stopping progress. We need the gas.
To which I’ll reply, indeed we do need the gas. And why, therefore, are we letting Shell take it, without paying us a cent for it?
Not a single cent.
But at least we have our gas supplies guaranteed, you might point out.
I’m afraid you’d be wrong. When Shell takes this gas, free, from our shores, it will sell it on the open market where we will compete with the rest of the world to buy it back.
In many ways, it’s a pity these protesters are getting all the headlines, and distracting attention from the real scandal which is the theft of a vital national resource by a private company with the connivance and support of our government and its police force. A more cynical person might think that the protesters are working on behalf of Shell to provide a smokescreen while it goes about its theft.
How did all this happen? How did it come about that a private company could not only take our energy supplies but could do so with the full support of the government?
Would you like a hint?
All right then. I’ll give you two hints.
Ray Burke. Bertie Ahern.
Previously on Bock: