Navy called in over Shell protests

A naval ship was deployed today as protests mounted over a controversial Shell gas pipeline.

The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.

A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.

Campaigners opposed to the Corrib off-shore pipeline are expected to step up protests there as the world’s largest pipelaying ship, Solitaire, was due to sail in.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the Le Orla, which was formally a British naval gunship patrolling Hong Kong, arrived at Broadhaven Bay today.

“It is there as an aid to the civil power. It was requested to assist gardai and provide them with a platform at sea,” he said.

Asked if an Irish naval ship had been involved in a similar capacity before, he replied: “Not to my immediate knowledge.”

He added: “The Naval Service has been in discussions with the gardai about this operation.

“Any operation we undertake will be with the gardai. We will not be involved in any operation independently of the gardai.”

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