Footage has been spreading across social media in Ireland which shows a member of the Gardai wildly lashing out with a metal baton hitting an unarmed man and appears to show it striking him to the side of the head.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has opened an investigation into the events seen in video. In a press release this afternoon it says:
“The Commission is of the opinion that the public interest is best served by an independent investigation of this matter. This decision is taken in accordance with section 102(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
GSOC is appealing for anyone who may have been present and witnessed the alleged incident, or anyone with information which may assist the investigation to contact them on 1890 600 800.”
The protest was a collective organising effort from Wexford Housing Action Group (a member of the Irish Housing Network) and a range of community members and activists from Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin who successfully stopped an auction of NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) properties.
From the video what is clear is that the Gardai attempted to arrest one man, after the man appears to refuse to give him his name. A lot of shouting breaks out as the man is wrestled to the ground in the middle of a crowd.
Separately, an older man is knocked to the ground and it can be seen that a walking stick is trying to be pulled off him by a police officer. People surrounding the man are making it clear that the man has Parkinsons which is why he has a walking stick.
The full video seen below was captured by journalist John Rooney.
The footage pans back to the police officer who attempted an initial arrest. Earlier in the video his shoulder badge number is recognisable as WX 152. He can be seen to walk forward, and then simultaneously pivot whilst remove his extendable metal baton.
He reaches back with his right arm and swings full force to strike a man. As the police swings to strike the man, the man has his arms down by his side and is struck full force with the metal bar to the head and arm. The man falls to the ground.
The man was treated at the scene after an ambulance was called. It is understood his injuries were not ‘serious.’
Gardai themselves have spoken out about inadequate training for using batons opens them up to legal action being taken against them. There seems to be grounds for such action – in the face of widespread public reaction – to be taken in this instance.
Garda were initially issued with 21 inch ASD extendable batons in Nov 2001, in a move seen by many as controversial at the time. In 2013 GSOC criticised An Garda Siochana for its use and subsequent attempts to cover up manic batoning of students at a demonstration outside the Dept of Finance.
For an archive of actions across Ireland about the housing crisis see here.
Watch in full! – Garda attack on peaceful protest at an auction in Gorey, Co. Wexford against the illegal selling of NAMA properties. (Video copyright of John Rooney)
Posted by An Spréach: Housing Action Collective on Thursday, November 12, 2015