Jobstown protest trial jury told their own political views “have to be left outside the jury room”
By Isabel Hayes
The jury in the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men accused of falsely imprisoning former Tanaiste Joan Burton has been told their political views must be left outside the jury room.
On day 33 of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial today, Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, gave his closing speech.
Paul Murphy (34) and five other men have pleaded not guilty 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.
The charges against a seventh accused, Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght, were dropped last week.
The two women were attending a graduation ceremony at An Cosán adult education centre when an anti-water charge protest broke out around them. The jury has heard they were detained in vehicles for three hours.
Mr Gillane told the jury that the essential question in the case is “not political” and that their political views should have no bearing on the case. “You’re entitled to those views but those views have to be left outside the jury room,” he said.
Outlining the nature of the charges against the accused men, he said that when you seek to restrain the liberty of a person, the restraint has to be “total”.
“It’s not good enough for me to establish some class of obstruction or inconvenience,” he said.
Outlining the case against each of the men, he said they worked together with a “shared intention” that day to totally restrict the liberty of Joan Burton and Karen O’Connell.
Mr Gillane said there was no doubt about the right to peaceful protest which he said is “embedded in the Constitution”. But he said there were “obvious limitations” to that right.
“I can protest about water (charges) or anything else but I can’t do it in your kitchen,” he said.
He rejected the proposition that what happened to Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell was inevitable because people were angry about water meters or water charges.
“There”s nothing inevitable about it,” he said. “Adults must be responsible for their actions. Being angry about something doesn’t change that.
“What we require of people is that they control that anger instead of indulging it. If you indulge it, you’re responsible for it.”
He said “political context or motivation” simply doesn’t allow for the restraint of the liberty of other people.
He said Ireland has a Constitution, which includes the right to protest, but which also includes the right to be free.
We don’t allow a judge, gardaí, the army, the “men in white coats” to restrict other people’s liberty, he said.
“We don’t allow any of those (arms) of the state to do that to other people. Why would we allow Paul Murphy to do it? Or Michael Murphy or Scott Masterson or any of the accused?”
He said the appropriate verdict for the jury to return was one of guilty on each of the charges on the indictment.
The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.
Paul Murphy (34) of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon (39) of Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy (53) of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green; Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght and Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght have all denied the charges.