A NORTH MAYO fisherman has claimed he feared for his life, and thought he would be ‘left for dead’ after a number of gardaí assaulted him last Friday morning at the scene of a picket at Barrett’s quarry in Bangor Erris. He believes the presence of a documentary film-maker and the intervention of a passerby saved him.
In an interview with The Mayo News, fisherman, Mr Pat O’Donnell broke down and cried about the impact the incident has had on him, his family, and his 14-year-old son, Patrick, who witnessed a number of gardaí pinning the 48-year-old to the ground and then allegedly kicking him in the ribs, kneeing him in the groin and trampling on him.
Mr O’Donnell also claims that both his sons, Patrick and Jonathan (21), were physically attacked when they attempted to intervene to stop the assault.
“I had started off the day on a picket at Lennon’s quarry [also on the main Belmullet road]. That was around 7 o’clock. We had blocked the bridge for a while with our cars but when the Gardaí came along, we moved,” said Mr O’Donnell.
He said the group of 30 protestors then went to Bellanaboy where they met with scenes of mayhem, horror and ‘women crying’. It was around 8.30am at this stage.
“The baton charge was over, but the scene was horrific. Poor Ed Collins, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, was also hurt,” he said.
Mr Collins was removed to hospital by ambulance suffering from back and leg injuries.
By 11.30am, about 30 to 40 gardaí had arrived.
“When we stood out in front of the truck, they didn’t ask us to move like they usually do. They just charged at us,” stated Pat O’Donnell, who claimed that about seven or eight gardaí grabbed him and pulled him straight across the main road. He said he had been involved in trying to stop them being abusive to a young girl.
“I was made an example of on Friday. One of them would say,’ Let him up’, and I’d try to get up, and then another one would push me back down. I could hear Patrick shouting:’Leave my Dad alone’. In the end, I rolled around on my stomach to try and protect myself,” he said,
Film-maker, Jim Cahill, whose documentary on sheep fairs in Bangor Erris will coincidentally be televised on TG4 on Sunday next, November 19, confirmed to The Mayo News he witnessed and recorded the incident.
The passerby, who intervened, also corroborated the allegations.
“I wasn’t there at all when it started. I was on my way home from Bellanaboy at about 11 o’clock. I didn’t recognise any of the cops, but there were three of them on top of him. I shouted: ‘Let him go. Let him up.’ And they did,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Tony McNamara said that he was aware that there were a number of incidents involving physical altercations between gardaí and protestors at various locations around Erris.
“I’m not aware if a complaint has been made but there are provisions for people to make complaints at any Garda station. These may be forwarded to the Garda Complaints Board and I would not be aware of them,” said Chief Supt McNamara.