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Sunday 4 December 2016

'I was spat on, threatened and kicked' - ex-Garda reveals why he ditched force for Australia

Joe Connolly on Garda Down Under
Joe Connolly on Garda Down Under

A former Garda has revealed he left the Gardai for the Australian police force after being spat on, threatened and kicked at a protest outside the Dáil.

Joe Connolly (29), from Tallaght, reveals the reasons behind his decision to emigrate to Australia on the first episode of new RTE documentary series Garda Down Under.

The new six-part series charts the lives of ex-Gardai who have emigrated to Oz and are now adjusting to the cut and thrust of law enforcement in the world's biggest police district.

Joe says he made the decision to leave the Gardaí and join the Western Australian police force (WAPOL) after being subjected to abuse at a protest outside the Dáil.

“I was outside Dáil Éireann at a protest and I was kicked," says Joe, who was stationed at Pearse Street Garda Station at the time.

"I was spat at. I was threatened that a brick would be thrown in my face and under the Haddington Road Agreement I had been working for free, basically. I was doing a ten-hour shift for absolutely nothing."

He adds, “I just said, ‘look if I get this job, I am taking it, I am taking this opportunity, I am not going to let it pass by’. I haven’t and now I have a pool in my back garden."

Joe is one of 30 Gardaí to have emigrated to Western Australia since 2005 when the police force there started to actively recruit experienced officers from overseas as the local economy enjoyed a massive mining boom.

Gardaí are regarded as highly trained by the Australian police force and were among their prime targets.

In Western Australia police are stationed from Perth to the remote far norther where they are expected to act as everything from forensic investigators to temporary paramedics.

The sheer vastness of the landscape can be one of the greatest hindrances in solving crime.

The series, narrated by Kathryn Thomas, follows the Irish recruits on the job and off duty as they adapt - some better than oth3ers - to their new work and lifestyle.

The first episode of Garda Down Under is airs at 8.30pm on Wednesday, September 2nd.

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