Belfast Telegraph

MEP lodges Garda protest complaint

An MEP has lodged a complaint with the Garda Ombudsman over alleged assault during a sit-down protest at the controversial Shell gas project in north Mayo.

Paul Murphy, of the Socialist Party, has claimed gardai used excessive force to clear him from a public road near the Corrib refinery near Ballinaboy.

"It was a conscious attempt to inflict pain," he said. "No time passed between we, the protesters, sitting down and the gardai reacting with force. There was no time for mediation, no attempt. There was no discussion that we would agree to leave."

About 20 demonstrators including Shell-to-Sea activists and Socialist Party members sat down in front of a truck on a road near the refinery development while one climbed on to the roof of the vehicle.

Mr Murphy claims gardai moved swiftly and aggressively to clear people from the road.

The MEP stated that he was punched on the head, suffered a badly bruised upper arm, was repeatedly prodded in the ribs, had one of his ears twisted and suffered severe pain after a gardai attacked pressure points between his jaw bone and ear. He said he found it difficult to chew food for a few days.

"There was a disproportionate use of force. There was a focus on the pressure points and a deliberate targeting of people's pressure points," he said.

After being lifted off the road by a number of gardai Mr Murphy was not detained further. Only one arrest was made on the day - the protester who climbed on board the truck.

The Garda Ombudsman has received 114 complaints about policing involving protesters at the Corrib project.

A Garda spokesman declined to comment on the MEP's complaint as the matter is in the hands of the Ombudsman.

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