Water charges protester convicted of assaulting detective garda

A water charges protester was yesterday convicted 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, who was on duty at the Greenhills Hotel, Ennis Rd, Limerick, on November 24, 2014.

Det Gda Whelan told Limerick District Court that he was “providing security for a number of cabinet ministers, including An Taoiseach Enda Kenny”.

Det Gda Whelan said Shanahan was part of a small, “hostile” group who shouted abuse at attendees.

On the night, around 600 water charges protesters gathered at the hotel, organised by the Anti Austerity Alliance.

Det Gda Whelan said that, as he was returning to the hotel after escorting an unnamed man from the meeting to his car, Shanahan stepped out in front of him and called him a “fucking lackey”, before assaulting him.

“As I walked past [Shanahan], he lashed out with his right elbow,” said Det Gda Whelan. “He connected in the middle of my chest. It was a bloody good blow.”

Det Gda Whelan said he did not immediately arrest Shanahan for fear it would cause further trouble in an already “hostile” situation.

“He was aggressive, he seemed geed up and excited,” he said.

Shanahan admitted heckling people attending the meeting, but he denied assaulting Det Gda Whelan.

“I was calling people names, yeah,” he told the court. “I call it heckling. I didn’t assault anyone.”

Shanahan initially denied meeting Det Gda Whelan on the night, but later admitted under cross-examination that he and the detective had “brushed off each other”.

Convicting Shanahan, Judge Marian O’Leary fined him €150, with three months to pay, and fixed recognisance on Shanahan’s own bond of €300.


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