Saturday 21 September 2019

Garda HQ in 'hourly contact' over raid as Harris pledges national supports

Reaction: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described the events in Strokestown as ‘very serious incidents’. Photo: Damien Eagers
Reaction: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described the events in Strokestown as ‘very serious incidents’. Photo: Damien Eagers

Cormac McQuinn, Ken Foy and Tom Brady

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has described events in Strokestown as "very serious incidents" and says Garda HQ are in almost "hourly contact" with the local divisional commander.

Mr Harris said he was briefed about the reprisal raid at the house in Falsk early on Sunday, in which eight men were injured, and says the force has put in place national supports for gardaí in Roscommon.

When questioned about the actions of gardaí during the eviction of the siblings on Tuesday of last week, he insisted officers would intervene if they witnessed violence during evictions.

He said that in relation to Roscommon and evictions generally, gardaí are not there to supervise, but to prevent a breach of the peace and prevent crime. "These matters are carefully planned and there's no way any of my personnel would stand aside and watch a violent attack. They would intervene," he added.

A number of national Garda units are involved in the investigation into the violence in Falsk. Detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation are spearheading the inquiries, along with local senior gardaí. Officers are satisfied those involved in the savage assault on the security guards are from outside the area, and are widening their inquiries as they delve more deeply into the likely background of the attackers.

Investigators have been examining files on previous incidents of public disorder, linked to housing occupation and eviction protests.

The McGann family home at Falsk, near Strokestown, Co Roscommon Photo: Frank McGrath
The McGann family home at Falsk, near Strokestown, Co Roscommon Photo: Frank McGrath

They are satisfied that some of the attackers have criminal histories as well as involvement in public protests.

Officers are reluctant to discuss the affiliations of the attackers in the midst of a live investigation, but say the inquiries will take time to complete as they sift through the information emerging from the examination of the scene by Technical Bureau experts and intelligence being gathered by specialist units.

However, it is understood that some of the men involved in the raid have links to dissidents.

Farmer Anthony McGann, his brother and his sister have no involvement with individuals linked to the shocking raid.

A pickaxe handle lies on the mud near the house
A pickaxe handle lies on the mud near the house

Mr McGann's sister and brother are now back in the house in Falsk.

Separate to the investigation into Sunday's raid, it's understood there are "no imminent plans" to forcibly remove the siblings from the house.

Much of any future action depends on KBC Bank. It may go back to the High Court and request 'contempt of court' proceedings. This would involve the matter coming back before the judge who made the original civil order, who would decide whether anyone before the court had disobeyed this order.

In that event, gardaí would be compelled to arrest the people and bring them before the judge. This has not happened yet. "Gardaí are waiting for this matter to settle down. If there is a further court order that will have to be acted on," a senior source said last night.

One of the bales of hay which was used to block a bridge on the night of the attack on eight security men at the property.
One of the bales of hay which was used to block a bridge on the night of the attack on eight security men at the property.

Irish Independent

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