Judge claims Donegal people have no respect for Gardai

A leading judge has launched a scathing attack on the people of Co Donegal claiming they think Gardai are ‘fair game’ while out on duty.

Judge Seamus Hughes was speaking after Gardai were surrounded by a drunken mob outside a nightclub after arresting two brothers.

Shane and Michael O’Donnell were arrested after becoming involved in an assault outside Dodge Nightclub in Derrybeg, Co Donegal on August 15th last.

Garda Kevin Gallagher revealed how he and two other officers were surrounded by a mob and abused as they tried to put the accused into a patrol car.

The shaken Garda said he had previously been stationed at Store Street in Dublin for five years and had never encountered such hostility.

His colleague Garda Colin Talbot revealed how the officers had to draw their batons to calm the situation down.

They were also forced to call for reinforcements from nearby Dungloe Garda station, leaving the station completely unmanned for a number of hours.

The Gardai revealed how they were verbally abused, jostled and pulled during the stand-off.

“It got quite hostile and we had to draw our batons to calm things down. At one stage there was 20 people surrounding just two of us,” said Garda Talbot.

Judge Seamus Hughes said he was outraged by the attack and could completely understand why the officers would fear for their lives.

And he said he thought the people of Co Donegal treated Gardai very badly in the course of doing their duty.

“Some people in this area especially, and in Donegal as a whole, may feel that the Gardai are fair game but I don’t feel that way and I won’t tolerate it.

“It is a view of many people looking at this area that there is a problem.

“I don’t know if it’s something historical that has led people to have that opinion or if they just have no respect for the Gardai,” he said.

Solicitor Jacqueline Sharkey said her clients, from Brinaleck, Derrybeg, had never been in trouble before and could not be held accountable for the mob which surrounded the Gardai.

She said that both men had been attacked by another man both inside and outside of the nightclub and that man had been barred from the premises for six months as a result of the attack.

Judge Hughes sentenced Shane O’Donnell, 27, to two months in prison for assault but suspended the sentence for two years.

He also sentenced his brother Michael, 29, to two months in prison for threatening Gardai but refused to suspend the sentence when queried by solicitor Jacqueline Sharkey.

The judge also said he did not know the owners of Dodge Nightclub but said their license could be in jeopardy if there continued to allow drunkenness and fighting to take place outside their premises.