Sunday 25 February 2018

Councillor more concerned about bad publicity than anyone's safety at anti-water charges protest, garda tells trial

Paul Murphy, Michael Murphy, Scott masterson, Ciaran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks
Paul Murphy, Michael Murphy, Scott masterson, Ciaran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks

Declan Brennan

A Garda witness has told the trial of South Dublin councillor Michael Murphy for allegedly falsely imprisoning the former Tánaiste Joan Burton that the defendant was more concerned about bad publicity than anyone's safety.

Garda Fionnuala Whelan disagreed with a defence suggestion that Mr Murphy had used his influence to try to calm down aggression and volatility during the water charges protest in November 2014.

Mr Murphy (53), along with Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men are on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court charged with false imprisonment of Ms Burton and her assistant.

Defence counsel for Councillor Michael Murphy said as a county councillor he would have had some clout or influence. He said Garda Whelan had already given evidence that those present had appeared to follow his lead and obey his directions when he asked them to stop throwing missiles.

Senior Counsel Raymond Comyn said Mr Murphy was very concerned when people became too volatile, aggressive or abusive and tried to stop them.

Garda Whelan replied that he did so "because he was concerned about negative publicity.” She said “he did not show concern for anyone's safety."

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton Photo: Collins Courts
Former Tánaiste Joan Burton Photo: Collins Courts

Mr Comyn put it to the witness that Michael Murphy was trying to calm down and tone down the aggression. Garda Whelan said "what he said was they did not want negative publicity."

She said she believed the councillor had added to the hostility by taunting the Tánaiste and “riling up” the crowd.

“He could have done a lot more if he really wanted to help matters. I feel he was trying to reduce negative publicity,” she said.

The jury was shown video footage in which Mr Murphy can be heard telling protestors he was suggesting they let Ms Burton go after half an hour and that "there is potential for argy bargy and that is not what we came for."

Paul Murphy (34) of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon (39) of Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have pleaded not (NOT) guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.

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