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Nov 26th
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Protester denies groin kick

Protester denies kicking security guard in groin


A SHELL to Sea protester charged with assault and trespass denied claims that she kicked a security guard in the groin and claimed she entered the yard to ask the security guards who they were and what they were doing.
Ms Maura Harrington of Tullaghanbawn, Geesala, appeared before last week’s sitting of Belmullet District Court charged with assaulting a security guard and trespassing, at Glengad on June 19 last. At a previous sitting she was accused of kicking a security guard in the groin and entering a compound which was private property being used as part of the Corrib gas project.
Ms Harrington told the court that prior to the date there had been considerable anxiety in the locality following the appearance of people unknown to them at the site. She said these people were recording people’s movements and she went to find out who they were and worked for because she felt she was entitled to that information. She said they were not displaying any identification and very little of their faces were visible.
Under questioning from Superintendent Michael Larkin, Ms Harrington said the incident took place at 1am. She said the gate was possibly closed and she did not think she tried to open the gate. She said that she had ‘possibly’ consumed alcohol and when asked if she was suffering from the effects of alcohol, she said that was a matter of opinion.
When asked if it was reasonable to climb gates, she said it was not unheard of in the country and when Supt Larkin asked if it was common at 1am, she said it was known to happen. She said as far as she was concerned the field belonged to a relation of hers who never denied her access before.
She said she did not consider the account of the people giving evidence against her to be truthful and because they did not have identification on them she could not accept they were security personnel.
Mr Colm Henry told the court he lived 60 metres from the site and explained that in early April 2008 his family became terrorised by people filming him and his family every time he stepped outside the house. He said he did not know who they were and had reported their activity to the Gardaí.
Mr Alan Gannon, solicitor for the defendant, said the three witnesses who gave evidence at the last court sitting gave three different accounts of what happened and in this circumstance there was doubt over what happened. He said that while Ms Harrington accepted that she entered the property she did not accept she was trespassing because the owner was a relation of hers.
Mr Gannon said that the security personnel were not wearing identification which he said was contrary to the Private Security Act. He said the Gardaí did not investigate this even though the penalties for such matters are more serious than for the charges against his client.
Supt Larkin said the witnesses were clear that Ms Harrington kicked the defendant in the groin and that she had entered the property despite private property signs and the guards saying she was not welcome. He said to suggest she went there in the middle of the night to find out who they were was naïve. He added that the Private Security Regulator had investigated complaints and they had made the decision that the security guards were entitled to exemptions in the circumstances.
Judge Mary Devins adjourned the case until May 13 when she will give her decision.


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