The Garda Ombudsman has confirmed that it is investigating 16 formal complaints against gardaí relating to water charge protests, including claims of physical assault and neglect of duty.
Most of the incidents are alleged to have occurred in north Dublin in the last two months at water charge protests and at people’s homes where water meters were being installed.
Some of the complaints include alleged assault, which means they are categorised as “criminal investigations” while most of the others fall into the category of alleged “abuse of authority”.
In one case, a woman claims she was manhandled to the ground by a garda, resulting in marks or bruising on her arm.
Another woman alleged that she was grabbed by a garda that led to an injury to her arm.
Some of the allegations centre around gardaí being violent. Under the complaints system operated by GSOC, it must categorise as a “criminal investigation” a complaint where a victim alleges assault by a garda.
GSOC is also examining complaints of “abuse of authority” or “neglected duty” where there are allegations that members of the force interfered with or blocked people on their properties or where members of the force were involved with Irish Water workers on sites and properties.
GSOC confirmed most of the 16 incidents being investigated occurred in north Dublin and are related to protests on numerous dates in September and October.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, GSOC said: “Some of the complaints alleged assault, which meant they were categorised as criminal investigations, while most of the others fell into the category of ‘abuse of authority’, to be investigated as possible breaches of discipline. They are all currently under investigation, and we hope that they will be able to be processed quite promptly.”
It is understood that a small number of separate complaints are being examined. These relate to alleged incidents involving gardaí in Coolock, Dublin, a fortnight ago.
Protesters at the time reported that gardaí used pepper spray on people who had congregated outside Coolock Garda Station on the night of November 5.
This followed an earlier protest in the day when Taoiseach Enda Kenny was attending a sports event in Santry where scuffles broke out between anti-water charge campaigners and gardaí.
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