Paul Murphy blasts decision to charge 23 over Burton water protest
SOCIALIST TD Paul Murphy is among more than 20 people set to face charges over a water protest during which Tanaiste Joan Burton was detained in her car.
Arrests are expected to take place in the next 10 days after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided to charge 23 people in relation to the incident late last year.
Among the charges expected are false imprisonment, violent disorder, assault and criminal damage, though not all those set to be arrested will be charged with all of the offences. Some may be charged with only one.
It is understood that the charge against Paul Murphy will be limited to false imprisonment.
Ms Burton is due to be the key prosecution witness for some of the charges and will have to take the stand at any trial.
All the charges are due to be dealt with at the Circuit Court, before a jury, where penalties are potentially more severe.
A car carrying Ms Burton was blocked by protesters for more than two hours as she attempted to leave a graduation event in a college in Jobstown in Tallaght on November 15.
Gardai began an investigation which led to almost 40 arrests earlier this year.
Among those arrested in February were Paul Murphy, and two Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors, Kieran Mahon and Mick Murphy. The three have claimed they were subject to political policing.
The two councillors are also set to be among those charged.
“This is serious stuff. It is a serious attack on civil liberties and the right to protest,” said Mr Murphy about the charges.
The TD said he has yet to be formally contacted about any such charges and queried how the story broke in the media beforehand. On the prospect of being charged with false imprisonment, he said: “I don’t believe I or others committed false imprisonment, I reject that in its entirety.”
Mick Murphy was defiant last night.
“Let the law take its course,” he said. “They arrested us before, but we weren’t expecting this. It’s hard to see where this is going, but it sounds like an own-goal decision for the Government,” he said.
“We are not afraid to answer the questions. After all, we have answered them before.”
The Tanaiste met gardai for more than an hour on November 20 and “gave her version of events as they unfolded” according to her spokesman at the time.
Her spokesman was asked about the decision to charge more than 20 people in relation to the incident.
“The gardai and DPP are independent in their functions and it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing proceedings,” he said.
It is believed that around 35 files were sent to the DPP for consideration.