Friday 22 September 2017

Garda called 'scumbag' and 'woman beater' at protest

Former Tanaiste Joan Burton TD. Photo: Collins Courts
Former Tanaiste Joan Burton TD. Photo: Collins Courts

Isabel Hayes

A garda witness has said he was called a "woman beater, a disgrace, a uniformed scumbag and a coward" after he helped a woman who fell over during the Jobstown water charges protest.

Garda Jonathan Ryan took the stand on day 22 of the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and six other men who are accused of falsely imprisoning former tánaiste Joan Burton and her aide Karen O'Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15, 2014.

The men have denied the charges at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Yesterday, Gda Ryan told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that he arrived at the scene to see Ms Burton (inset bottom) and Ms O'Connell in the back of a car that was surrounded by protesters.

He said he recognised Mr Murphy among the protesters.

Gda Ryan said some of the protesters were banging on the car, which was shaking.

Paul Murphy TD, arriving at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts.
Paul Murphy TD, arriving at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts.

"It wasn't a nice situation at all," he said.

Gda Ryan said he was at the scene about three-quarters of an hour when a decision was made to move the women to a Garda Jeep.

Cordon

He described gardaí forming a cordon of two lines to protect the women, but it dissolved "in a matter of seconds".

"She was protected by the guards and then she was swarmed by protesters," Gda Ryan said of Ms Burton (pictured). He described the situation as "extremely hostile" and aggressive.

Once the women were in the Jeep, Gda Ryan described how a bottleneck formed among the crowd, causing him to fear for the safety of those present.

"People very deliberately stationed themselves in front of the Jeep to make sure it couldn't move even though people were being caught up in the squeeze," Gda Ryan said.

Protesters who sat in front of the Jeep were "creating a very dangerous situation", he added.

Read more: Garda 'hit in the head with can of Red Bull' while moving Joan Burton through anti-water charges protest crowd

Gda Ryan said at one point, a woman fell over and he helped her up.

He said one of the defendants, Michael Banks, then called him a "woman beater, a disgrace, a uniformed scumbag and a coward".

Gda Ryan said Mr Banks had seen what happened and was just trying to "goad" him.

Gda Ryan went on to describe how later when the Jeep had made its way on to Fortunestown Road he saw Mr Murphy hold a vote as to whether Ms Burton should be kept there or marched out of the area.

"He appeared to be enjoying himself," Gda Ryan said of Mr Murphy.

Under cross-examination, Sean Guerin SC, representing Mr Murphy, put it to Gda Ryan that his evidence was "wholly incomplete and misleading".

He said his recollection of events was "such to portray Paul Murphy (inset top left) in the worst possible light".

Gda Ryan denied this.

Paul Murphy (34) of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon (39) of Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy (53) of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght, have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Ms O'Connell.

Irish Independent

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