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Irish Independent: Gardai probe ‘brutality’ at Shell protests

Published: May 03, 2007

THREE senior garda officers are to investigate complaints alleging brutality and other improper behaviour by gardai, arising from violent incidents during protests at the Shell terminal in north Mayo.

A total of 16 complainants have made formal application to the Garda Complaints Board for investigation against 25 officers, including local superintendent Joe Gannon.

All the complaints are understood to have arisen from clashes between protesters and gardai at the Bellanaboy terminal late last year.

A number of protesters, opposing the construction of the Shell processing terminal and pipeline, were forcibly removed from the roadway.

A small number of gardai also sustained minor injury in the incidents.

Special Branch Det Supt Michael Jackson has been appointed by Commissioner Noel Conroy to investigate all the complaints against rank-and-file gardai.

Two chief superintendents from outside the Mayo area, Paul Hargadon and Gerry Mahon, have been appointed to investigate the allegations against Supt Gannon.

A spokesperson for the Garda Complaints Board told the Irish Independent that the officers, appointed under section six of the Garda Complaints Act of 1986, would carry out a thorough investigation on behalf of the board and report back to it.

While the board would formally be succeeded by the Garda Ombudsman Commission next week, complaints lodged with the board would continue to be investigated by it to conclusion.

The board can conclude that no breach – or a minor breach of discipline – occurred.

It can also decide that, in serious cases, a tribunal of inquiry should be established to investigate further.

Disposed

It can also decide that a complaint is vexatious.

A total of 500 cases are currently being processed by the board and 38 tribunals it has appointed have yet to sit.

Given the backlog, it could be up to two years before all the cases arising from the Shell protests are disposed of.

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent understands that summonses arising from the disturbances at Bellanaboy have been served on three individuals on the directions of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Brian McDonald and Tom Brady

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