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Corrib Gas Project: Garda accused of assaulting boy

TUESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2008

Niall Healy

Garda accused of assaulting boy

THE Mayo News

Áine Ryan

A GARDA has been accused of assaulting an eleven-year-old boy on Glengad beach last Friday morning (August 22), The Mayo News has learned.

Ms Paula Healy – a native of Glenamoy who lives in the UK with her lawyer husband and two young children – said yesterday that her family is ‘in shock’ and ‘extremely upset’ by the incident involving her son, Niall.

She dubbed the incident – believed to be carried out by a garda on temporary transfer – as ‘bullying’ and ‘not democratic’. She also stressed that she was from a law-abiding family who had never come to the attention of the police before.

Ms Healy said she made an official complaint to Superintendent John Gilligan of Belmullet Garda Station and also to the Garda Ombudsman over the weekend.

Confirming to The Mayo News yesterday that he had received ‘a complaint about an alleged assault of by a member of the Gardaí’, Supt Gilligan said that protocol meant the Ombudsman will now pursue the complaint. It could lead either to criminal or disciplinary proceedings.

“I had immediately initiated an investigation as a result of the complaint but the Ombudsman will now take care of it since his office has been contacted also,” said Supt Gilligan.

Detailing the lead-up to the alleged assault, Ms Healy said she had visited the Solidarity Camp on Friday morning last and had then gone for a walk on the beach, which is the site of an ongoing protest by objectors.

“I was down at the Solidarity Camp [on Friday last]. I was walking along the water’s edge with my eldest son, Niall, with my back to the compound. This garda came towards us with his arms folded and with that he shouldered my son who was carrying a video camera. He kicked his left foot out at my son’s foot,” said Ms Healy yesterday.

She told The Mayo News she believed the garda had steered off his path deliberately to collide with Niall.

“I think the word is ‘barged’ him with his shoulders and legs,” continued Ms Healy. She says she believes the actions ‘constitute an assault’ and that the garda, despite several requests, refused to identify himself.

“I was in shock, I just couldn’t believe it,” she added. Ms Healy’s husband, who was away for the day, was also very upset on his return.

They proceeded to arrange a meeting with Supt Gilligan and another senior officer to ‘make sure they had a clear picture of events’.

“We are decent, law-abiding people and not troublemakers. We are just a young family who loves returning to this most beautiful place in the world. We have been on holidays for five weeks.

“I wish this never happened. We are still very upset. This shouldn’t be happening in Ireland. It is a democracy and what I saw was bullying,” Ms Healy said.

“This was the most beautiful community in the whole world. In certain villages the meitheal still existed, where everyone would help with the hay. This is not just about splitting a community, it is destroying a heritage, the most untouched environment and the most wonderful people,” she concluded.

Ms Healy’s parents and many of her family still live in Glenamoy and the area. Last Thursday (August 21), the day before the alleged incident, Gardaí arrested eight Shell to Sea activists involved in demonstrations at sea at Glengad. Gardaí and Shell security have been maintaining a cordon at Glengad, where Shell contractors are preparing a landfall for the offshore pipeline.

http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4802&Itemid=38

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