By David Raleigh
An anti-water charges protestor was convicted this evening of assaulting a Detective Garda, while he was on duty, providing protection for the Taoiseach and other cabinet ministers, at a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.
Joseph Shanahan, aged 64, of St Michael’s Court, Watergate Flats, Limerick, had denied assaulting Detective Garda Pat Whelan, Henry Street Garda Station, who was on duty at the Greenhills Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick, on November 24th, 2014.
Detective Whelan told Limerick District Court, he was "providing security for a number of cabinet ministers, including An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny".
Det Whelan said Shanahan was part of a small "hostile" group who shouted abuse at those attending the meeting.
On the night, around 600 anti-water charges protestors gathered at the hotel, organised by the Anti Austerity Alliance party (AAA).
Detective Whelan said, as he was returning to the hotel after escorting an unnamed man from the meeting to his car, Shanahan stepped in front of him and called him a "f*****g lackie", before assaulting him.
"As I walked past (Shanahan), he lashed out with his right elbow," Det Whelan said.
"He connected in the middle of my chest. It was a bloody good blow," he told the court.
Det Whelan said he didn't immediately arrest Shanahan for fear it would cause further trouble in an already "hostile" situation.
He said he made his way back to the hotel from the entrance as he was "in fear" Shanahan would assault him again.
"He was aggressive, he seemed geed up and excited," Det Whelan said.
Shanahan admitted heckling people attending the meeting, but he denied assaulting Det Whelan.
"I was calling people names, yeah," he told the court.
"I call it heckling," he added.
"I didn't assault anyone," Shanahan said.
The accused initially denied meeting Det Whelan on the night, but he later admitted under cross examination, that he and Det Whelan "brushed off each other".
Defence witness, Frank Conway, admitted that he and Shanahan, who were lifelong friends, shouted abuse at Fine Gael members.
Shanahan, whom the court heard was a caretaker at St Mary's Rugby Club, had three previous convictions, including, failing to obey a garda's directions; public order; and larceny.
Convicting Shanahan, Judge Marian O'Leary fined him €150, with three months to pay, and fixed recognisance on Shanahan's own bond of €300.
Limerick Anti-Austerity Alliance general election candidate, Cian Prendiville, was one of a number of supporters of Shanahan present in court.