Tuesday 22 August 2017

'Dregs' not an insult, Burton's former aide tells trial

Karen O'Connell Photo: Collins Courts
Karen O'Connell Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

Ex-Tánaiste Joan Burton's former adviser has denied a comment she made about the Jobstown water charge protesters showed she was "contemptuous" of them.

Karen O'Connell admitted she used the words "f***ing dregs" in the back of a car in which she was allegedly falsely imprisoned with Ms Burton.

Paul Murphy Photo: Collins Courts
Paul Murphy Photo: Collins Courts

However, she insisted "dregs" was not an insult and she'd only meant the end of the protest.

She also denied she "exaggerated" how fearful she had been.

Ms O'Connell was being cross-examined at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (34), south Dublin councillors Michael Murphy (53) and Kieran Mahon (39), and four other men, who all deny falsely imprisoning her and Ms Burton.

The pair were allegedly imprisoned in cars at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15, 2014, after attending an adult education graduation ceremony.

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton Photo: Collins Courts
Former Tánaiste Joan Burton Photo: Collins Courts

Ms O'Connell told Padraig Dwyer SC, for one of the accused, Frank Donaghy (71), that she had been involved in Shell to Sea protests 11 years ago, but there was a "distinct difference" because while access to sites were blocked, nobody was held "against their will".

Ms O'Connell was heard on video laughing in the back of the car during the Jobstown protest but said this was a "human reaction" to a nervous, tense situation. She insisted she was panicked, crying and "petrified" during the protest.

In video footage, Ms O'Connell was heard saying: "This always happens and the end of the protest, the f***ing dregs decide not to finish it."

She said her language had been "awful" and it was near the end of a three-and-a-half-hour ordeal.

Her understanding of the word "dregs" was that it meant the end of something - such as the dregs of a drink or a cigarette, said Ms O'Connell.

"I was very, very fearful and I was very upset at that time," she said. "You were relaxed and rather contemptuous of the people who were slow-walking the vehicle," Mr Dwyer said.

"That is your opinion," Ms O'Connell replied.

The trial continues on Monday before a jury and Judge Melanie Greally.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News