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'The fact you can't see is terrifying' - Garda recounts being pelted by rocks while responding to callout

Middle-ranking gardaí are today voting on a number of measures regarding their welfare.

Image: AGSI

A GARDA SERGEANT has described how he feared for his life as he was pelted with rocks when answering a call.

Sergeant David Haughney, who is based in Midleton, Cork, was working a night shift with his colleague John Tarrant in 2014 when they received a call out about an incident in Youghal.

Gardaí are today voting on a number of measures regarding their welfare at the annual Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) conference in Tullow, Carlow.

Reliving the night he thought he was going to die, Haughney said he owes his life to his colleague and friend.

He explained:

“I was out in a patrol car and there was a second call came in for an incident – we said we’d help out. It took us a while to find the location. It was dark. We came across two guys who we’d know.

“I was driving so I went ahead and realised who they were and they were well-known to us but as soon as we did they tried to leave, but to do that they had to be driving at us.

“I hemmed them in with the car and we knew once we got out that there was going to be trouble. From the outset there was aggression and no positive response from them.

“It was aggression from the word go,” he said.

The gardaí deployed their batons and pepper spray, in line with protocol, “but their aggression got higher.”

We could hear the stones hitting the car, hitting glass – trying to see where they were coming from – without warning I remember getting this thud in the head.

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Panic started setting in, he said. The serious head injury had started to make him vomit and the only protection he had left was his partner.

The stones continued to smack the patrol car. The garda sergeant remembers hearing the thud of stones bouncing off the car windows and he could hear his colleague’s voice as he fought back.

Describing the moment he was struck by the rock, Haughney said:

“For a while I didn’t know what it was but I knew it wasn’t good. All I could think of was to say was ‘John – I’m gone’ – it was a horrible moment for quite a while. The pain was excruciating – it was around my eye and my head.

I couldn’t see properly and it was ‘Am I dreaming this?’ – I didn’t know. The thing I can remember, John Tarrant standing over me – he was protecting me and keeping them back. I could hear the stones banging and pinging. I just wanted it to end. It was a very confusing time. The fact you can’t see is terrifying.

The AGSI is highlighting the trauma and stress placed on its members on a daily basis. The association’s three day conference finishes tomorrow.

Read: Gardai considering industrial action over government refusal to let them strike >

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