GARDAÍ arrested one person and confiscated placards at a demonstration by Corrib Gas protestors outside a retirement party for a senior officer who was involved in the recent 'rape tape' controversy.
The incidents occurred on Friday night last as members of the garda force and their families attended the retirement party for Sergeant James Gill who has retired after almost 33 years service.
Shell to Sea, who organised the protest, claims it was 'grossly inappropriate' for gardaí to be celebrating a person who is being investigated by the Garda Ombudsman for alleged comments about raping two women in police custody.
Ex Sergeant Gill, who has been based in Bangor Erris in recent years, recently took a successful court action for libel against fisherman and Shell to Sea campaigner Pat 'The Chief' O' Donnell.
Mr. O'Donnell is appealing to the Supreme Court the decision of a Circuit Court Judge last December to find in favour of Mr. Gill and award him €33,000 in damages.
On Friday night outside the Broadhaven Hotel, Belmullet gardaí confiscated placards with wording they deemed to be offensive to Sergeant Gill. There was one arrest.
Following the incidents. Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway claimed gardaí had smashed and stolen signs. The protest, which had been held in a public place outside the hotel, attracted up to two-dozen campaigners, according to Mr. Conway.
Mr. Conway stated: “Any celebration of this man is an insult to our community, and is a particular insult to women the day after International Women's Day, given the controversy over the so-called 'rape tape' investigation, which is still ongoing.”
However, the claim that two-dozen protestors were involved has been rejected by gardaí who say there only about 10 campaigners present.
The attendance at Friday night’s function included Fianna Fáil spokesman on Justice, Deputy Dara Calleary, who said yesterday (Monday) he had missed the protest as he had arrived late.
Deputy Calleary spoke at the function stating the large numbers attending were testimony to the regard in which Sergeant Gill was held.
Messages of congratulation to Sergeant Gill from Mayo Fine Gael Oireachtas members, Minister Michael Ring and Deputy John O'Mahony were read out at the function on their behalf.