Friday 28 July 2017

Coppinger accused of insulting the entire Garda force

Ruth Coppinger
Ruth Coppinger
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger has been accused of "insulting and degrading" the entire membership of An Garda Síochána in a scathing complaint lodged with the Dáil's procedures watchdog by Government chief whip Paul Kehoe.

In a highly critical letter of complaint, Mr Kehoe said Ms Coppinger "abused" and "impugned the reputations" of the force when she claimed Tánaiste Joan Burton "called out the dogs" on water protesters after she was trapped in a car for two hours.

The now infamous incident in Jobstown, Tallaght resulted in the arrest of 27 protesters, including Socialist TD Paul Murphy, who were involved in the demonstration.

Ms Coppinger insisted she would not withdraw her comment and accused Mr Kehoe of "wasting the Dáil's time".

"Under no circumstance will I withdraw the remark, because withdrawing the remark would suggest there was something wrong with the remark, which there wasn't," she said.

In February, during a heated Dáil debate following the arrests, Ms Coppinger accused the Government of political policing and claimed people in Jobstown feared their first-born would be "rounded up" by gardaí to "please" the Tánaiste.

"Is her wounded political vanity so precious that she needs this vindictive attempt to criminalise an entire working-class community in this way?" Ms Coppinger asked.

She told the Tánaiste that former ministers and Taoisigh encountered protests, had cars impeded and had verbal abuse shouted at them. She referenced incidents involving Bertie Ahern and Charlie Haughey.

According to the official Oireachtas record, Ms Coppinger then added: "For all their sins, neither went and called out the dogs and called on a repressive police response for the behaviour they faced."

At the time, a number of Government TDs, including Mr Kehoe, reacted angrily to the remark and demanded that Ms Coppinger withdraw it.

Last month, Mr Kehoe sent a formal letter to the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privilege calling on Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to investigate the comments.

Irish Independent

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