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No criminal charges taken against gardaí after water protest complaints

The garda watchdog received 40 complaints in relation to the policing of water protests and the installation of water meters.
Jul 18th 2016, 6:45 PM 19,089 100

29/8/2015. Anti Water Charges Campaigns Protests Water protesters pictured outside O'Connell Street in August last year Source: Sasko Lazarov/

THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT evidence to take criminal or disciplinary action against gardaí in relation to the policing of water protesters, a new report has said.

Gsoc’s 2015 annual report notes that it received 40 complaints relating to the policing of water charge protests and the installation of water meters in a period between September 2014 and August 2015. 

Most of the complaints were over allegations of assault, excessive use of force, neglect of duty and abuse of authority.

Eleven of these, the watchdog reports, were not admissible for investigation as they were either anonymous or had come from people who had not witnessed the event.

As part of the policing of the protests, gardaí were issued with body cameras. The footage from these was later examined as part of Gsoc’s investigation.

The footage from these cameras and video posted to social media was the principal source of evidence for those investigating.

It was found that there was “no clear evidence of garda misconduct” in the majority of the videos, and in some cases it was shown that gardaí’s actions had been “proportionate”.

1/7/2015. Water Protests Block Dail Entrance Water protesters outside the Dáil in July last year Source: Sam Boal/

One file was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to a complaint of an assault on a female.

While the recommendation for a prosecution was not made, a disciplinary investigation by the Garda Commissioner into the action of three gardaí remained open at the end of 2015.

Total complaints 

Today’s report takes a broad look at the complaints received by Gsoc and the demographic of people making complaints against the gardaí.

In 2015, GSOC dealt with 1,996 complaints that contained 4,269 allegations against gardaí.

Today’s report notes that these follow a similar pattern to previous years, with around one-third relating to neglect of duty, and around one-third to abuse of authority.

When it came to garda divisions that the most complaints were made about, the following came up most frequently:

  • The Dublin Metropolitan regions, 
  • Kilkenny-Carlow
  • Galway, 
  • Donegal,
  • Limerick. 

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It should be noted that the frequency of complaints in these areas is mostly down to the fact that they’re larger or busier divisions – and not necessarily because these areas draw a higher number of complaints.

Who complains to GSOC? 

When it comes to which age groups complain about gardaí to Gsoc, it’s a pretty even spread, with a slight drop off after the age of 50.


When looking at the employment status of those who make complaints, a disproportionately large number of unemployed people (25%) were seen to make complaints to the body, compared with the national rate of unemployment (around 9%).

Overall, Gsoc noted that last year there were “improvements in efficiency and dialogue and cooperation with the Garda Síochána”.

Read: Twitter accounts linked to detective garda used to mock Clare Daly after arrest

Also: Twin sister of Mary Boyle to complain to GSOC over leak to The Star

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Michael Sheils McNamee


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