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Gorey property auction protest investigated by Garda Ombudsman

Published 13/11/2015

An investigation has been launched by the Garda Ombudsman
An investigation has been launched by the Garda Ombudsman

The Garda watchdog has launched an investigation into the alleged batoning of protesters during a property auction protest.

The probe into the actions of gardai during the incident at Gorey in Co Wexford has been opened in the "public interest", said the Garda Ombudsman.

It follows the uploading of video footage to a social media website which shows a demonstration against the sale of property at Ashdown Park Hotel in the town.

A garda is seen telling one man that a complaint of assault has been made against him, and asks for his name and address, under section two of the Non-fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

It is understood an employee of the auctioneers made a complaint of being assaulted when protesters moved in to disrupt the sale.

Hotel staff called gardai to the scene.

When the suspect refused to give his details, a garda placed a hand on the man's arm to arrest him for failing to provide his name and address and a disturbance broke out.

In the resulting unrest, one older man, grasping a walking stick, is seen falling to the ground.

A short time later, the same garda is seen pushing through the crowd in the hotel lobby as he is surrounded by demonstrators chanting "peaceful protest".

The footage then appears to show a garda drawing his baton.

In a statement, a group calling itself An Spreach: Housing Action Collective claims a number of people were injured by batons and pepper spray.

Gardai must make a record if they have drawn their batons or discharged pepper spray.

Protesters says up to 50 "housing rights activists" were involved in disrupting the sale of 32 houses and 16 acres of land at Riverchapel Wood, Courtown, Co Wexford, with a reserve at just over 25,000 euro a house.

A Garda spokesman confirmed a man aged in his 30s was arrested during a public order incident at the hotel in Gorey on Thursday.

He was detained at Enniscorthy Garda station and later released. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Garda Ombudsman confirmed it has opened an investigation into the "policing of a protest at a property auction in Gorey, Co Wexford".

"The commission is of the opinion that the public interest is best served by an independent investigation of this matter," a spokeswoman said.

The Garda Ombudsman appealed for any witnesses to contact them.

A Garda spokesman confirmed a baton was used during the incident but denied any use of pepper spray.

"A baton was used, no use of incapacitant spray," he said.

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