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Irish Independent: Garda ‘was hurt by gas protesters’

Published: May 22, 2007

A GARDA sergeant has told a court he had his right thumb fractured when he was hurled “with immense force” into a drain during scuffles with Shell to Sea protesters.

Sgt Donie Glennon told a special sitting of Belmullet District Court that he landed head first in water after being struck in the midriff from the front in the incident at the site of the Corrib Gas terminal in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, on October 12 last.

The witness gave evidence before Judge Mary Devins that he was in shock after the incident. He was later diagnosed in hospital as having fractured the thumb of his right hand and had been off work since the incident, a total of more than seven months.

The officer, who is normally based at Strokestown, Co Roscommon, was the first garda witness in a state case against three Shell to Sea protesters who are accused of assault causing harm to a garda and of obstructing Garda officers.

The accused men – father and son Patrick and Jonathan O’Donnell, both from Porturlin Shore, Ballina, and Enda Carey, Porturlin, Ballina – deny the charges.

Fourteen garda witnesses and 18 witnesses for the defence were called to give evidence at yesterday’s hearing. A large number of representatives from the Shell to Sea group, which is demanding that the Shell gas terminal be located offshore, occupied the body of the courtroom.

Video evidence filmed by gardai during the early-morning protests on October 12 was shown during the course of the hearing, as was videotape of an interview conducted with Patrick O’Donnell at Belmullet garda station on the day he was arrested.

Sgt Glennon said he was one of four sergeants in charge of about 40 gardai providing protection for Shell workers entering the site when he was knocked off the road. He had been hit with great force while looking over his shoulder. He could not say it was an assault.

Other garda witnesses gave evidence of seeing the defendants forming a scrum to force Sgt Glennon off the road.

Garda Hugh McNulty said protesters had blocked both sides of the road with a sit-down protest when the incident happened. Two young men, Enda Carey and Jonathan O’Donnell, were at the front being pushed forward by the older man, Patrick O’Donnell, the witness claimed.

Sgt Glennon’s feet had been lifted clearly off the ground and backwards into a drain. Some of the protesters present had been rowdy at the time and abuse was being shouted at gardai, the witness said.

Garda David Mulhall claimed the sergeant was “targeted”, saying Enda Carey and the two O’Donnells had rushed towards him and lifted him off his feet in a rugby-style tackle.

Cross-examined by Alan Gannon, solicitor for the three accused, Sgt Dermot Butler said he had no recollection of calling Pat O’Donnell a “f…ing liar” when the accused had complained about being assaulted by another garda.

After the completion of garda evidence, Judge Devins announced that she was adjourning the remainder of the case to Belmullet Court on May 30. She said she would also like to visit the place where the alleged assault had taken place.

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