Protest: Shell-to-Sea campaigner Maura Harrington gets by with a little help from her friends at the Shell plant at Glengad beach in Co Mayo earlier this year

A BITTER row has broken out between Shell-to-Sea campaigners and gardaí over the authorship of an offensive text and email that has been circulating amongst protesters and officers.

In the verse, the author – purporting to be a garda – commends the protesters for their actions, which are earning them valuable overtime and wages.

However, gardaí involved in policing the protest believe the lyric is just the latest attempt by the Shell-to-Sea campaign to tar them.

The poem makes extremely derogatory references to Maura Harrington, a key figure in the protests, who has been jailed for contempt of court.

It labels her a "scrawny piece of shit" but pays an ironic tribute to her actions because of the amount of garda overtime it has created, even as overtime has been slashed around the country for other officers.

Socialist MEP Joe Higgins said: "If this was being circulated by members of the gardaí, it would be completely inappropriate. It would be wrong for members of the gardaí to treat a citizen in this way. It certainly is slanderous and is not the type of thing that should be passed around by anybody."

Officers involved in policing the protest said they were aware of the verse and that it had been circulating in the local area.

One senior garda said: "I simply do not believe that this has anything to do with us. I think it was written by a protester and circulated to blacken our names. The officers involved in the work out here take their jobs very seriously and do not react despite constant provocation from certain people involved in the protest."

Pure Poetry: What the email says

Oh, thank you Maura Harrington
The money we will gain
You really are a saviour
with your Shell-to-Sea campaign
Please don't stop the protests
We really need the bucks
Just keep the crusties coming
Those useless smelly f**ks
This recession is quite worrying
Our wages have been hit
But your work has made the difference Maura
You scrawny piece of shit
Free tea we have been drinking
The weather has been smashing
Our suntans are topped up now
A few hippies got a thrashing
'Twas a mighty get-together
The craic and beer was good
Looking forward to the next time
You have us round the hood
So remember little Maura
You really must not fret
The mule is always willing
For the money he will get
Go on now Mrs Harrington
What will be will be
Keep the auld flag flying
And remember: Shell to Sea!