Three Shell to Sea protesters who were involved in a protest in September 2008, while taking part in a vehicle protest throughout the Erris area in support of Maura Harrington’s hunger strike, blocked in and surrounded an unmarked Garda car, were each sentenced to six months in jail after they refused to undertake community service.
The case which was heard in Belmullet District Court at the end of September outlined that Patrick O’Donnell, Porturlin Shore, Ballina, led the 86 car cavalcade; Gary Bohan, Church Road, Belmullet, drove his car directly behind the Garda car and Martin McDonnell, Bunalty, Glenamoy, Ballina, drove his in front of the car, blocking the gardaí in. All three were convicted of three section 19.3s for the wilful obstruction of a peace officer acting in the course of his duty and for a section six public order charge (threatening, abusive, or insulting behaviour in a public place ).
At Wednesday’s sitting in Castlebar, probation reports were furnished to Judge David Anderson in relation to their suitability to undertake community service. Solicitor Alan Gannon who represented McDonnell and O’Donnell said that the men were not willing to undertake community service as they wanted to appeal their convictions. Ward McEllin, who represented Bohan, also said that the defendant refused to undertake community service.
Judge Anderson said that that “there is no justification” for their behaviour in that “a member of An Garda Síochána should be in fear of their lives”.
McDonnell, an unemployed, single, man who lives at home with his mother on her small farm was sentenced to six months in jail for Section 19.3 (the wilful obstruction a peace officer acting in the course of his duty ) obstruction to Sergeant Gill; sentenced to six months concurrent for obstruction to Garda Clarke and was also sentenced to six months concurrent for obstruction to Garda McHale. The section six public order charge was taken into consideration.
Bohan, who works part time for the fire brigade and O’Donnell a married father of four, who runs a small fishing business, were both given the same sentence.
Recognisances were fixed and by the end of the court sitting surety was approved for each of the men.