A protestor who blocked the main Dublin-Galway railway line in the summer of 2011 must now work on a railway in Sweden to raise the €3,000 compensation he was ordered to pay in the District Court this week (December 19 ).
Gerard Geraghty (30 ), with an address in Cedarwood Drive, Monksland, Athlone, but now living in Sweden, climbed on the iconic White Bridge across the Shannon at 6.45am on July 5, 2011 where he unfurled a banner detailing his grievances.
His actions saw the stoppage of all railway transport between Dublin and Galway, and Dublin and Westport for three hours until he voluntarily came down.
“What was he doing up there, like a chimpanzee in a zoo?” asked Judge Seamus Hughes.
“Protesting the downgrading of services at Roscommon hospital,” explained Inspector Aidan Minnock for the State.
The bridge closure cost Iarnród Eireann €3,200 to hire the transfer buses to take their passengers from Athlone to Ballinasloe and Roscommon stations.
“On one level it’s humourous, but on another, it caused great inconvenience to passengers with jobs, or hospital appointments,” said the judge.
“”He wanted some notoriety,” accepted his solicitor, Mr Mark Cooney.
“He wanted to be better than the other protestors,” said the judge.
“Have you ever been to north Mayo? To the Shell to Sea [protest]?” the judge enquired.
“I admire what they do, but not really. I’ve sort of worked for the oil industry,” said Geraghty.
Mr Cooney told the court his client was a highly technical welder who had worked recently in the oil business in Canada, and was presently employed on the construction of an underground railway in Sweden, earning up to €800 a week.
Whn he learned Geraghty had saved nothing towards this over the last 18 months, Judge Hughes said: “I know a place I can send you where you can make a whole load of new friends this weekend”.
“I want him to make full restitution, make good the damages he caused. He’s earning between seven and €800 a week and he comes into this court without one red bean?,” said the judge.
After some consultation, Mr Cooney indicated his client had some issues with paying compensation to the State, but was willing to make a €3,000 donation to St Vincent de Paul.
Judge Hughes accepted this, and gave Geraghty until July 17 to raise this.
He then asked the inspector to instruct the charity that this money only be made available to those seeking funds for travel.