Disabled man blasts ‘heavy handed’ customs

The hand of the man that was pulled from the van. 1804JM57''PAT CHANGE THIS CAPTION!!!!
The hand of the man that was pulled from the van. 1804JM57''PAT CHANGE THIS CAPTION!!!!

A man who produced a disabled badge yesterday morning in the ‘Journal’ offices has stated he has been advised by his solicitor to take legal action against the Revenue authorities after an incident at Muff on Wednesday morning where, he alleges, he sustained hand and arm injuries.

He was the second caller to our offices who complained about what were described as ‘heavy handed’ customs operation

The clearly upset and agitated man, who also on legal advice has asked not to be named, told his story: “On Wednesday morning I was stopped by Customs officers at St Mary’s Hall.

“They questioned me where I was coming from, wanting to know why I was driving a northern registered vehicle.

“I told them I was native of Malin but I have been living in the Waterside area of Derry for a number of years but am a regular visitor to my home place.

“I also had my son, who is a pupil in Oakgrove College in Derry, in the car.

“After some questioning it then got a bit more heated when an officer said ‘you were guilty of an offence before...” but I told them they were, that they had taken a vehicle off me before totally illegally but because it would have cost me ten grand to mount a legal challenge to get it back I had to let it go.”

The man then said at this stage he point blank refused to hand over his keys, stating they (the Customs) were not going to ‘get away’ with the way they had treated him before a second time.

“I told the officer to get the Gardai, that I was going nowhere.

“With that he attempted to grab the keys from the ignition and I made a grab for them as well.

“During the hauling and pulling two more officers came to aid this officer and when the key ring snapped one of them fell to the ground.

“They then came the heavy telling me they, who were the aggressors during the entire situation, would do me for assault.

“I am registered disabled as I have had a couple of major operations on my back.

“Following this incident I have have been to the doctors and had my hand x-rayed.

“It is so badly swollen they don’t know whether I have a break, a fracture or just a severe sprain.

“All I know I’m in agony.”

The man concluded: “I’m very, very angry.

“I have read the rubbish in the Journal where the Customs authorities claim their officers treat people with respect.

“Maybe then someone can explain when my 14 year old son, a chronic asthmatic who was off his inhaler for the past of years but had to go back on it last night, told the officers ‘Leave my daddy alone’ he was told by one of them, “You shut to f... up”.

On Wednesday a Derry man also contacted the Journal stating that it was a ‘banana republic’ now operating in Donegal where, he claimed, he had photographic proof of former Gardai and others, whom he described as ‘public officials’, living openly in the county while driving northern registered vehicles.

“On one occasion I saw customs officers stop (a man he named as a former Garda serving in Inishowen), talk to him, they shook hands and yer man was driving a Northern car.

“It was so blatant I couldn’t believe it.

“These are the same people who left a heavily pregnant woman in tears at the side of the road some time back.

“The hypocrisy and double standards stink to high heaven.”

He indicated that he too was seeking legal advice before deciding what further action he was prepared to take.

He added: “These people behave like the Gestapo.

“There seriously needs to be a proper forum, like an Ombudsman’s office, to rein them in.

“They behave like they do because they know the legal system and the courts are stacked in their favour.

“That has got to change.“

When contacted the Revenue Service issued their usual response: “Our staff are both trained and expected to treat the public with dignity and respect in all their dealings with them.

“It is an important element of our Customer Service Charter that you can expect to be treated courteously, with consideration and in a non-discriminatory way in all your dealings with Revenue.

“There are comprehensive complaints and appeal procedures open to all Revenue customers and all complaints are investigated and any issues which arise are taken seriously.

“The Revenue website www.revenue.ie has full details of our comprehensive complaints procedures.”

Both complainants described this response as ‘a joke’.