Tuesday 21 November 2017

Burton denies trying to portray protesters as 'rabble' and says she felt 'intense fear' in car

Joan Burton arrives at court with her husband Pat Carroll yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Joan Burton arrives at court with her husband Pat Carroll yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton has said she felt moments of "extremely intense fear" during the demonstration in Jobstown in which she was allegedly falsely imprisoned.

The Dublin West Labour TD said she was fearful of how she and her advisor were going to get out of the car they were in and where they would run to if they did.

She denied that she later deliberately left out any reference to water protesters in her Garda statement, in an attempt to portray them as a "disorganised rabble".

Ms Burton was in the witness box for a third day yesterday in the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (34), south Dublin councillors Kieran Mahon (39) and Michael Murphy (53), and four other men, who all deny falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her advisor Karen O'Connell.

Ms Burton was allegedly falsely imprisoned in cars for around three hours at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15, 2014.

Asked about the lack of reference to water protesters in her statement, she told Michael O'Higgins SC, for one of the accused, that it had not been a political statement and she had just recounted what happened to her.

Mr O'Higgins put it to her that she had deliberately omitted this because she did not want to give the protesters "even a veneer of legitimacy".

Ms Burton disagreed and said she had given her statement in good faith and honestly.

Read more: Former Tánaiste Joan Burton tells court she worried about 'where to run if car door was opened' during Jobstown protest

Mr O'Higgins then asked her about her answer to a Dáil question by Joan Collins TD in October 2014 in which she had said: "All the protesters I have seen seem to have extremely expensive phones, tablets and video cameras."

"It implies if they can afford extremely expensive phones, as you perceive them to be, paying for water couldn't be that much of a deal and these were people who were manipulating the system," Mr O'Higgins said.

"I don't entertain those feelings at all," she replied.

Mr O'Higgins then asked her about a video clip on the day of the protest in which she said to Ms O'Connell "what you should do now is go on social media and say it was shameful all the little kids there and no one minding them or looking after them and they are just roaming the streets".

Ms Burton said this had been in response to a poster about cuts to funding of the breakfast club programme.

Mr O'Higgins said the verbal abuse she allegedly received "may be unpalatable but as a public representative, you should be big enough and bold enough to take it on board".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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