Garda caught on film smashing windows of Erris residents car at Shell roadblock


Shocking video has emerged of a Garda attack on a local resident, John Monagahan, at a roadblock the police were operating on behalf of Shell. The video shows the car being stopped at the roadblock and then you can hear the Garda smashing in the drivers window of his car with a baton before threatening to pepper spray him.  John had just left his home some 500m away.

The criver of the car, John Monaghan, is a Rossport resident and is a spokesperson for Pobail Chill Chomain, a community campaign opposing Shell's inland refinery project in north Mayo (the Corrib Gas project).

This is the latest incident of heightened police aggression in the aftermath of Justice Minister Alan Shatter smearing Shell to Sea campaigners as 'protest tourists'. At the time of his remarks concern was expressed within the Shell to Sea campaign that they were intended to send a message to the Garda suppressing protest on behalf of Shell to step up their assaults on campaigners. They were also made just in advance of a week of court cases where 19 campaigners are facing 80 charges.

Residents and campaigners around Erris have long talked of a level of Garda repression that many people around Ireland have found difficult to believe. In this case the police have been caught in the act because the driver had a camera running as he approached the roadblock at the Shell compound at Glengad. The camera appears to have been fixed to the dashboard as it remains fixed videoing out the front window of the car but the Garda can be heard smashing in the window and threatening  the driver with being pepper sprayed.

At the time pepper spray was issued to the Garda the justification was that they would only use it for self-protection if they were attacked with a knife or other weapons. This video exposes this as a clear falsehood, as well as the Garda making the threats at least three more are visible around the car at various points in the video and none of them make any effort to restrain their colleague. Again confirming the routine nature of this sort of policing for Shell in Erris. 

This story will be updated as more details emerge, you can watch the video below - a second version of the video has been captioned to explain what's happening at various stages.

UPDATE:   John Monaghan's account of what happened

"This occurred at lunchtime on Ash Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012, on a small local road, L1202 in Glengad, Co Mayo. This is close to Shell's haulage route and about 70 metres from Shell's compound in Glengad. This is a few kilometres from Shell's refinery site at Bellanaboy.

"You can see that two female Gardaí approached the car. When the third Garda, a man, approached the window, he had his baton drawn before he knocked on the window. After he smashed the window, I got out of the car. The Garda told me I was under arrest. I was surrounded by Gardaí with batons drawn.

" 'Are you refusing to show your licence?'," the male Garda said. I thought I was in for a beating.

"When I took out my driver's licence and he looked at it, the atmosphere changed instantly. They all backed away and suddenly I wasn't under arrest any more. The only conclusion I can draw is that they assumed I was an outside supporter, from the Rossport Solidarity Camp. I assume that when they saw my name and a Rossport address address, that is what changed their approach.

"So, I was left a bleeding hand from the broken window and with a car with a broken window on the side of the road. I phoned Belmullet Garda station to complain and to ask for assistance. They refused to send anyone.

"Following that refusal, I phoned the Garda Ombudsman's office in Dublin. They said that as there was no complaint to investigate, they would not investigate until a formal complaint was made. They told me I could make a written complaint or visit their office (which is in Dublin).

"So I felt the best thing to do was to release this footage, so that people can see what life is like on the roads here close to Shell's operations. This kind of thing is happening to varying degrees every day here. People need to that this is happening, that it could happen to them and that they will receive no protection." 

(John Monaghan is a Rossport resident and is a spokesperson for Pobail Chill Chomain, a community campaign opposing Shell's inland refinery project in north Mayo (the Corrib Gas project).

Video with explanatory captions