Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Corrib protesters bruised

Liam McNally in The Irish Times writes of how three people sought hospital treatment following scuffles between gardaí and protesters outside Shell's Corrib gas site in north Mayo yesterday.
Between 50 and 60 protesters from the Shell to Sea campaign gathered at Bellanaboy bridge when workers at the Shell site were being driven past to the refinery site's entrance gates.
A Garda spokesman said scuffles broke out after a garda was attacked and pulled among the protesters. Other gardaí went to his assistance and were assaulted. He said some had their uniforms torn in the incident.
The spokesman denied batons had been used by gardaí and rejected claims that some gardaí were not wearing mandatory identity numbers on their shoulders. He said a Garda sergeant was pushed into the path of a slow-moving bus carrying Shell workers. He was not seriously injured and remained on duty.
Three protesters - all local men - were injured in the scuffle. One was driven to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar, some 45 miles away. Another man received three stitches to an injury on his face, while a third man, with a suspected broken nose, also attended the hospital later for an X-ray.
An American television crew filming in north Mayo yesterday captured the incidents on camera. Gardaí are investigating the confrontation.
PJ Moran from the Shell to Sea campaign denied that protesters started the trouble.
"A Garda sergeant recognised one of the men in the group and ordered another garda to pull out the man. That is how it all started. That is when the scuffles broke out. We categorically deny that Shell to Sea initiated the incident."
Mr Moran also rejected the Garda claim that no baton was used. "One man was injured by a baton today. He was struck on the back of the head and a family member drove him to hospital for treatment. Several people asked to speak to the commanding officer today but no garda came forward."

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