Fisherman denies suggestion that he 'tried to throw punches at a Garda during protest'
A fisherman has denied a suggestion that he tried to throw punches at a Garda during a protest near the Shell gas refinery in north Mayo.
Martin O’Donnell said it was he who was punched a few times fast in the face by a Garda during the protest on January 19th 2007.
Mr O’Donnell denied a suggestion by Colm Smyth SC, for the gardai and State that injuries suffered by him, including a laceration to his eye and cheek injuries, were not a result of being punched in the face by a Garda but were rather due to “your own actions and own unlawful activity” during the protest.
That suggestion was “totally untrue”, he said.
He denied he was engaged with other protesters in trying to push gardai towards a convoy of trucks bringing workers to the Shell refinery.
He said he was later summonsed on charges of assault and breach of the peace arising out of the protest and was acquitted on all charges.
P.J.Moran, from Glenamoy, another protester, said he saw Garda Peter Lee punch Mr O’Donnell in the face while another Garda was holding Mr O’Donnell. Mr Moran said he got in between Garda Lee and Mr O’Donnell and tried to calm the situation down. Garda Lee was “fairly agitated”, he said.
Mr Moran said he told Garda Lee to “cop yourself on, you’re here to keep the peace and not to break it”. As he did that, he thought Garda Lee was about to punch Mr O’Donnell again but the situation calmed, he said.
When told a Garda Sergeant would give evidence that Martin O’Donnell made a threat to kill gardai, Mr Moran said he did not hear Mr O’Donnell say that. When told a Garda Sergeant would say Mr Moran had told Mr O’Donnell to calm down, Mr Moran said that did not happen and it was Garda Lee he told to calm down.
Asked what kind of man Mr O’Donnell was, Mr Moran said he was “an ordinary easy going fellow”.
Under cross-examination, Mr Moran said he had no axe to grind with gardai and had never even had a parking ticket.
He said he had not made a complaint to gardai about the incident involving Martin O’Donnell because of his experience when he previously made a complaint about dangerous driving on the road near the refinery. A garda wrote his complaint on the side of a newspaper and threw it on the ground in an insulting way, he said.
Today is the fourth day of the civil actions by Martin O’Donnell and his brother Patrick, both fishermen with addresses at Porturlin, Shore, Ballina and Patrick Coyle, a farmer, of Barnatra, Ballina, against the Garda Commissioner and State.
All three allege they were assaulted by gardai during the protest near Bellanaboy Bridge on January 19th 2007.
All three cases are being heard before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury.