Garda investigating Garda

The vicious attack by some 70 gardai on the Reclaim the Streets party of May 6th left 14 peaceful protesters hospitalised, many others injured and over 20 arrested for offences such as, for example, doing a handstand! This is not the first time gardai have attacked demonstrations linked to globalisation. This time however, the actions of the police were recorded on film and the next day the whole country could watch images of baton-wielding cops. Many of the gardai had clearly removed their ID numbers before starting to beat up the crowd.

Gardai bosses responded to the initial public outcry by singling out one garda, removing him to desk duty, and announcing an internal investigation into the events of May 6th. Clearly, however, individual gardai had been acting in a way which they felt was permitted by senior officers present. Judging by the European-wide pattern of violent attacks by police on similar globalisation protests, the directives on how to 'deal' with protesters would appear to be coming from on high.

It comes as no surprise then that, far from investigating police violence, those who seem to be coming under investigation are the protesters. Since May 6th police have been paying house calls to people associated with the demonstration and questioning them on the extent of their involvement in RTS. It appears that these officers are not connected with the police complaints board and seem to be gathering information about protestors under false pretences. In some cases it appears that these officers have accessed the complaints book to gather contact information about people.

After the Garda complaints board received 41 complaints of excessive police violence, it was announced that an independent inquiry was being set up to supposedly investigate the events of May 6th. The so-called inquiry, which is headed by a former assistant garda commissioner, is not required to publish the results of the investigation. It can access CCTV footage but will have no power to release this to the public. It will not in fact be investigating garda tactics and training but instead can only focus on complaints about individual gardai. No attempt will be made to advertise the inquiry or to seek submissions from the public.

Although the investigation is supposedly separate from the Garda internal inquiry anyone who does come forward will be guaranteed confidentiality only when deemed "appropriate". So what can this inquiry do? Nothing, as a garda spokesperson went on to explain, the investigation can in fact take no action whatsoever. The 'independent' ex-cop investigator can only refer a matter for further action to a Tribunal which will itself be made up of half the members of the Garda complaints board.

A legal defence campaign has been set up by protesters who were attacked, at least 12 of whom are now facing court charges, and their supporters. The campaign is involved in co-ordinating the legal issues arising out of the May 5th demo and fundraising for the defence of those charged and for those wanting to sue the police. Turn up to offer your support to the defendants who will be appearing on Court 46 (behind the Four Courts) at 10.00am on September the 30th.

You can contact the campaign at 087-9425422 or by email at

Deirdre Hogan

See also

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This edition is No71 published in July 2002

Workers Solidarity 71