Monday 21 August 2017

Jobstown protests were 'like a scene from the 'Lord of the Flies'', Taoiseach tells Dáil

Five of the protesters cleared in the Jobstown protest prosecution (from left) Deputy Paul
Murphy, Mick Banks, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy and Mick Murphy calling for a public
inquiry into the Garda investigation and for the charges against the remaining Jobstown
protesters to be dropped. Photo: Tom Burke
Five of the protesters cleared in the Jobstown protest prosecution (from left) Deputy Paul Murphy, Mick Banks, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy and Mick Murphy calling for a public inquiry into the Garda investigation and for the charges against the remaining Jobstown protesters to be dropped. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Ugly and violent scenes were more like a scene from the cult novel and film, “Lord of the Flies,” rather than any peaceful protest, The Taoiseach has insisted.

Mr Varadkar defended his expressions of concern about aspects of garda conduct during the marathon trial which arose from an anti-water charge protest in Tallaght in November 2014. 

During the incident, then-Tánaiste, Joan Burton, and her adviser, Karen O’Connell, were prevented from leaving the area and subjected to verbal abuse and threats.

The Taoiseach said just because nobody was convicted in the resulting trail, did not mean there were still no matters of concern.

"I believe the scenes there were ugly, they were violent. I was particularly struck by the moment when there a vote taken on whether the two women should be detained or not all night," the Taoiseach said.

"That to me was more like a scene from ‘Lord of the Flies’ than a scene from any peaceful protest," Mr Vardkar added. This was a reference from the cult story about a group of English boarding school boys shipwrecked on an uninhabited island where bullying and violence soon becomes rampant.

Read more: Beware the myths being peddled about Jobstown

Mr Varadkar rejected allegations from Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, that his comments last week were inappropriate and risked prejudicing a related trial yet to be held.

The Taoiseach said big trials required large taxpayer funds and tied up the lives of jurors for a long period. It was appropriate that a review be held when a prosecution failed.

Mr Varadkar said he had the height of regard for An Garda Síochána whose numbers would soon increase to 15,000 with an average pay of €70,000 per year, per garda.  But he said it was also right to demand the highest standards of work from the force.

The Taoiseach’s comments, admitting concerns about conflicts between garda testimony and video evidence, were welcomed by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, and People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett.

But Mr Boyd Barrett said it was not enough to ask the Garda Commissioner to investigate this conflict of evidence in the case.

"It has to be done by people who can look at the evidence impartially," he said.

Online Editors

Also in this section