herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Garda 'hit RTE cameraman in groin', court told

Cameraman Colm Hand
Cameraman Colm Hand

A garda is being prosecuted for assaulting an RTE cameraman who was injured while filming a violent protest in Dublin city centre.

Garda Sean Lucey is alleged to have hit cameraman Colm Hand in the groin during a baton charge.

Mr Hand also had his camera damaged in the incident, it has been alleged.

Gda Lucey is being summoned to court to face assault and criminal damage charges after a complaint was made to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

Serious

Judge Michael Walsh granted the issuing of the summonses at Dublin District Court after an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is acting on behalf of the commission.

Stuart Duguid, an officer with the commission, told the court that Mr Hand was allegedly assaulted at the junction of O'Connell Street and Cathedral Street on February 6 last year.

Judge Walsh said it was a serious allegation and asked what the background was.

Mr Duguid said that, at the time of the alleged assault, gardai were using batons to move back a line of protesters, some of whom were being violent. The court heard that Mr Hand was in front of the gardai, filming the violence.

State solicitor Michael Durkan said, after the alleged assault, Mr Hand made a complaint through his employer to GSOC. The court heard that Mr Hand had attended hospital, was seen by a doctor and suffered bruising to his groin.

This was the basis for the assault allegation, said Mr Durkan.

The criminal damage charge related to the part of the camera that was allegedly broken off.

Judge Walsh granted the application after Mr Duguid signed the information he had sworn before the court.

A legal representative for the accused was present in court. Violent clashes broke out when 1,000 people turned out for a protest against the launch in Ireland of anti-Islam group Pegida.

Gardai intervened when people thought to be linked to the group were singled out and attacked by a group of men.

Pegida - which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against The Islamisation of the West - began in Germany last year, largely in response to the European refugee crisis.

Clashes

As small groups of Pegida supporters approached the GPO from surrounding streets, violent clashes quickly broke out.

Members of the Garda Public Order Unit baton charged protesters back towards O'Connell Street and then set up a cordon in the middle of North Earl Street. O'Connell Street was closed to traffic in both directions between Abbey Street and Cathal Brugha Street, while Cathedral Street was cordoned off by public order.

Mounted garda and garda dogs were used to control the crowds. Gardai directed Luas to suspend services from Smithfield to the city centre.

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