Thursday 19 October 2017

Fitzgerald denies that Government had any 'political agenda' in the trial

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has rejected as "quite simply untrue" claims by Solidarity TD Mick Barry that the Government had "a political agenda" in the Jobstown trial.

As news came through of the court verdict, Mr Barry congratulated the six defendants who were all acquitted of the false imprisonment of former Labour leader and then-Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser, Karen O'Connell, during anti-water charges protests in Tallaght in November 2014.

Mr Barry, a TD for Cork North-Central, said the verdict was "a stunning defeat for the political establishment".

He said the political elite wanted "to create a powerful chill factor" to stop protests, as he warmly praised his party colleagues.

Mr Barry went on to describe Ms Burton as the "star witness for the State". He also castigated the Labour Party, claiming it had engaged in "a shabby attempt to frame socialists for standing up for their communities".

The Solidarity TD called upon Ms Fitzgerald, who was replying to Dáil questions for the Government, to explain the role of An Garda Síochána in the case. He alleged that it was based on 180 statements by gardaí, many of whom were senior officers, which the jury rejected.

Mr Barry also told the Dáil more than €10m was to be spent on trying to prove that the Jobstown group was guilty. "Let's save money here. Let's be prudent. Let's drop all remaining charges," he said.

Read More: Jubilation as Jobstown six are all cleared of charges

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan intervened to say "the House cannot instruct the courts".

The Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl supported this view, saying "there's nobody instructing anyone here".

Ms Fitzgerald insisted it was not the practice of parliament, and the Dáil should not rerun the evidence. "We respect the court decision of course. This was a jury trial. The jury makes it decision and justice takes it course," she said.

The Tánaiste added that an appeal could not be ruled out so it was not appropriate for the Government to make comments on the case at this point.

Mr Barry alleged that the Government used the Jobstown case in an "attempt to gain revenge against those of us on the left who have defeated you on the issue of water charges".

"The left is on the front foot now," Mr Barry told the Dáil.

The Labour Party said the investigation and prosecution of any criminal matter was decided by An Garda Síochána and the law officers of the State who operate independently.

Irish Independent

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