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MEP claims gardaí assaulted him at Corrib gas protest

The Irish Times – Friday, August 26, 2011

LORNA SIGGINS, Western Correspondent

SOCIALIST Party MEP Paul Murphy says he intends to lodge a complaint with the Garda Síochána over his treatment at a Corrib gas protest in north Mayo yesterday.

Mr Murphy says he was “assaulted by gardaí” as he participated in a sit-down protest on a public road close to the Corrib gas terminal at Ballinaboy.

“I was punched in the head, I had my pressure point targeted – as in my ear was deliberately twisted to a point of excruciating pain and my stomach was repeatedly poked and prodded at very sensitive points,” Mr Murphy said.

He said the action was “deliberately to cause severe pain, trying to get me to stop participating in the protest”.

Mr Murphy said he heard gardaí directing each other to “go for the pressure points” as they removed up to 20 people involved in a demonstration.

The Garda Press Office said it would not comment on the specifics of Mr Murphy’s claims. However, it said that one person who was on top of a truck was arrested, charged with public order offences and released on bail to appear in court next month.

A Garda spokesman said protesters had been asked repeatedly to move from the public road, where they were causing an obstruction. They were then removed by gardaí, he said.

Mr Murphy said that the incident arose when he and up to 20 others staged a “peaceful sit-down” around a truck which had halted on the road, after a protester boarded the truck and sat on top of it.

Garda brought a cherry-picker vehicle to remove the protester.

Mr Murphy says he may take the issue further, and will make a statement to the Amnesty International-FrontLine human rights observer who has been assigned to monitor the response to demonstrations at the Corrib gas project.

“What I have seen here today only deepens my solidarity with the people of Mayo who are resisting Shell,” he added.

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