Gardai made “unwise and inappropriate” decisions at a water charges protest, trial hears

Gardai made “unwise and inappropriate” decisions at a water charges protest, trial hears

Gardaí made “unwise and inappropriate” decisions at a water charges protest during which the former Tánaiste Joan Burton was allegedly falsely imprisoned, a trial has heard.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (34) and five other men have pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.

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Raymond Comyn SC, defending Councillor Michael Murphy, also said that the “root cause” of the escalation in the protest “had to be laid firmly at the door of the gardaí”.

In his closing arguments to the jury, Mr Comyn questioned why gardaí had failed to try and diffuse matters before the anger of the crowd increased rapidly.

He said every decision made by gardaí on the day was “unwise and inappropriate” and compared the gardaí who attended the protest to “the Keystone Cops”.

Mr Comyn claimed there was “something rotten at the core of this investigation” because evidence given by gardaí was proved “demonstrably wrong” in court by video footage. He also said he was very critical of gardaí for not finding “crucial” YouTube footage uncovered by Cllr Murphy,

The video in question showed Cllr Murphy speaking through a loud hailer and proposing to move the protest on and warning against “argy-bargy”, saying “this isn’t what we came here for”.

A woman in the video, who told the crowd through the megaphone that she was from Killinarden in Tallaght, advocated keeping Ms Burton and her advisor there.

“The final that a man who promoted a solution to the problem is now before the court, while the lady who was promoting the problem hasn’t even been identified or tracked down by gardaí,” said Mr Comyn.

Senior counsel for another of the accused, Cllr Kieran Mahon, also criticised what he described as “a series of misjudgements” and “tactical errors” by gardaí on the day.

Kerida Naidoo SC said his client “didn’t say boo to a goose all day” at the protest and although he was a political representative and a political activist, he could not be described as a criminal.

Paul Murphy of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon of Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght;; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have all denied the charges.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally.

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