By Patrick Markey
In the early hours of a recent morning, Kerrykeel became the scene of near rioting as protesters and law enforcement clashed — over the erection of a mobile phone mast in a local village.
Gardai initially gathered to force a withdrawal of demonstrators protesting the Esat Digifone mast, but in a scene more reminiscent of New York than rural Ireland, a huge force of Gardai arrived under cover of darkness to erect barriers, reports the Tirconaill Tribune.
Gardai clashed with objectors on seven occasions throughout the morning amid allegations of police brutality, intimidation and a failure to recognize the public’s civil right to express their views in peaceful protest, the paper reported.
Life in the village ground to a halt as traffic was diverted away from the main street and away from scenes of chaos. Protesters allege the Gardai aimed blows at a number of people and plan to identity the officers involved to Ireland’s Justice Minister.
The confrontations came as Esat officials attempted to erect their mast for the second time in three weeks. Esat construction workers withdrew again from the village before lunchtime as risks of more serious confrontation and injury developed.
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One local politician told the Tribune that he was pushed and jostled by officers. He said the actions of certain officers could not be tolerated in civilized society and he also said that he had been provided with the names of individual officers who allegedly threw punches at the protesters.
A statement by Tourism Minister Dr. James McDaid that mobile phone communications were essential to attract industry has also been heavily criticized. Kevin Kingston of the Residents Association said that Kerrykeel had neither industry nor Gardai on duty and McDaid should address these issues first.
Political yellow card
Local councilors in County Clare had better come to the point quickly or they may soon find themselves facing disciplinary action of a distinctly sporting nature.
The Clare County Council chamber may introduce a new get-tough policy against councilors who are guilty of repetition and straying off the agenda: a yellow card system, reported The Clare Champion
In an appeal for discipline at a recent council meeting, a Lissycasey councilor threatened that in the future he may issue a yellow card discreetly against councilors for repeating themselves or choking up time with motions away from the agenda.
He said it would be unfair to stick rigidly to standing orders at all times, but he had been taken to task by some councilors for allowing other members too much leniency.
Economy with words was the issue.
"We have all heard that brevity is the soul of wit. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, but I have to address the issue of repetition. I am appealing for the support of everyone. I believe in flexibility, but we also need more discipline at meetings," he said.
A proposal for a red light for councilors who want to make a contribution was also made by Cllr. Christy Curtin, who complained that councilors get frustrated if their indication to the chairman for permission to speak isn’t seen.
Despite the chairman’s appeal for brevity at that meeting, some councilors drifted off the agenda and made a number of contributions which meant that the last handful of motions near the end were rushed through once again.
Donkey killer charged
Allen Carmich’l appears to have a problem with females, females with four legs, that is.
Carmich’l, 22, was charged in connection with the death of a donkey in Malahide in May appeared again in Swords District Court recently, the Northside People reported.
The Dublin man is charged with unlawfully and maliciously killing one female donkey, cruelly ill treating one female donkey, cruelly beating one female donkey, and criminal damage to one female donkey. Carmich’l pleaded not guilty to all four charges when they were read out to him by Justice Sean Delap.
The accused donkey batterer was heckled and jeered — not surprisingly — by animal rights campaigners and onlookers as he left the court, his head covered with a hood.