A CORRIB gas protestor claims his car window was smashed by a garda baton as he attempted to move his vehicle to the side of the road, as directed. Longtime campaigner, and spokesman for Pobal Chill Chomáin, John Monaghan told The Mayo News yesterday that ‘raw video footage’ he has delivered to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, as part of a formal complaint, revealed clearly that he was attempting to comply with the garda direction when his side-window was smashed.
He said the video also records the same garda threatening to pepper-spray him during the incident, which occurred shortly after midday on February 22 last. The garda was on-duty on the rural road with two other gardaí near Glengad, the site of Shell works for the final phase of the project.
When questioned by The Mayo News yesterday, Mr Monaghan categorically said he had ‘not aggravated the situation’ and that he had explained to the gardaí, when stopped and asked to open his window, that he could not open it due to an electrical fault.
“I stopped when they instructed me to stop. They were pointing at me to pull in to my left and I was about to comply with that – you can clearly hear me changing the gear on the raw footage – when one garda came across and extended his baton a few times and knocked on the window. I was afraid to open the door once he appeared with the baton,” Mr Monaghan said.
Mr Monaghan said he had no plan to obstruct Shell traffic and was collecting materials for his new family home, which is under construction, before going to collect his daughter from school.
The video footage shows two gardaí stopping Mr Monaghan and one approaching the side of the vehicle. Mr Monaghan asks: “What’s the story here. What’s the story.” A garda replies: “Will you pull into the side please?” Mr Monaghan then says: “I’m going about my business. What’s the story?” A third garda, with the baton, then emerges from a van. Mr Monaghan can then be heard saying: “Hold on a second. Calm down.” He also repeats: “The motor [for the window] is broken.”
Glass can then be heard shattering and a garda saying: “I’m going to pepper-spray you next.” Mr Monaghan responds: “Please don’t pepper spray me.”
Mr Monaghan said he was threatened with arrest initially but after he showed the gardaí his license, they left the scene.
SHELL was directed to implement a stringent traffic management plan by An Bord Pleanála for this last phase of the project . In a statement for The Mayo News yesterday, a company spokeswoman confirmed that ‘ a detailed traffic management plan’ reviewed by Mayo County council was ‘ designed to ensure minimal disruption to the community during haulage activities’.
“Haulage to the Glengad works site does not take place during school drop-off and pick-up times. Haulage activity also stops for funerals in the local church in Aughoose and for other significant community activities of which we are aware,” the statement said.
Specific speed limits had been imposed and company appointed Community Liaison Officers were available daily to consult with local residents,” it continued.
“If any local resident has specific issues associated with traffic that they wish to raise they may do so through our community liaison team,” the statement concluded.
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