The garda investigation into the sinking of the boat of a Mayo fisherman opposed to the Corrib gas pipeline found no evidence of any third-party involvement, according to Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern. Pat O'Donnell, the owner of the 12-metre Iona Isle vessel, claimed the boat was boarded by
armed men and deliberately sunk.
He said it was an 'act of terrorism'. Some locals opposed to the pipeline suggested the alleged sinking had been carried out because of Mr. O'Donnell's opposition to the Corrib gas project.
Shell EP Ireland issued a statement at the time rejecting any suggestion it was behind the hijacking and sinking outlined in Mr. O'Donnell's account.
The incident, in June 2009, was one of the most contentious events linked to the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo.
Gardaí investigated the incident at the time and sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed no charges be pursued.
It has now emerged that no evidence could be found to suggest there was any third-party involvement in the sinking of Mr. O'Donnell's boat.
Galway City Council discussed a motion a number of months ago calling for the Garda and Deputy Ahern to launch a public inquiry into the circumstances of the sinking as set out by Mr. O'Donnell. Correspondence was sent to Deputy Ahern's office seeking an inquiry.
In his reply to the council, Deputy Ahern sets out clearly that a garda investigation had already been conducted into the case.
"The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of third-party involvement in the sinking of the Iona Isle and the law officers have directed no prosecution," he stated.
Mr. O'Donnell had claimed his boat was boarded by four men in diving suits at about 4 a.m. on June 11, 2009, off Erris Head. He claimed some of the men were armed and held him and his crewman Martin McDonnell at gunpoint.