36 complaints have been made to the Garda Ombudsman over incidents that occurred at the student protest held in Dublin on November 3rd. Students’ Union President Paul Lynam said that students who have experienced “excessive force” are entitled to complain to the Garda Ombudsman.
Lynam emphasised the importance of making complaints in any situation where it is felt that the Garda are responsible for misconduct, “not just the student protest, but in any protest, if someone feels that the guards were out of order, or crossed the line, or used excessive force, then they have every right to complain”.
Lynam once again emphasised that the invasion of the Department of Finance was the “actions of a minority”, and was not supported by USI or UCD Students’ Union.
Despite students being encouraged to make complaints if they experienced or witnessed any of the alleged “Garda brutality”, a spokesperson for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) said earlier this week that the complaints varied in the nature of allegations being made: “It would be unfair to say that they would be solely about the excessive use of force – they include 18 allegation types, these can cover neglect of duty, discourtesy, abuse of authority and non-fatal offence”.
There has been great dispute surrounding the incidents of the protest in the national media, where both the actions of the students and Gardaí have come under fire. Lynam commended the decision to use CCTV footage in the investigation as evidence to support the complaints, “I can say, certainly from the videos I’ve seen, excessive force was used.”
The final number of complaints made to the GSOC stands at 36 as of November 12th. 15 of these have been deemed inadmissible, according to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern. The Minister alluded to the source of the alleged misconduct, “due to a number of incidents, the Garda Síochána had to engage with those causing trouble”; however, he went on to say that “it did a great disservice to those who were there legitimately and peacefully to protest”.
The spokesperson for the GSOC did not give a final estimation of when the investigation will be finished. Each of the 36 complaints shall be issued with their own report.
Lynam has stated that UCDSU are awaiting the results of the reports.