Thursday 19 April 2018

Gardai to arrest 33 more over Burton protests

Paul Williams

THIRTY-Three more arrests are being planned by gardaí as part of the same investigation that led to the detention of Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy.

The Dublin politician and three other men spent several hours in custody yesterday answering questions about the alleged false imprisonment of Tánaiste Joan Burton during an anti-water charge protect in Tallaght.

Farah Mokhtareizadeh, the partner of Paul Murphy, was there to greet him on his release
Farah Mokhtareizadeh, the partner of Paul Murphy, was there to greet him on his release
Paul Murphy TD pictured leaving Terenure Garda Station. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Protestors outside Terenure Garda Station
Kareem Mushinn with placard outiside Terenure Garda Station. .
Paul Murphy arrest at his home

He described the arrest as "complete nonsense" and said that they were "not guilty in any sense".

However, the Irish Independent has learned that despite the backlash gardaí are determined to continue the investigation and are planning more arrests in the coming weeks.

Mr Murphy, councillors Kieran Mahon and Mick Murphy and Scott Masterson, a spokesman for the radical Éirígí republican group, were the first of 37 individuals gardaí wish to question about the incident in west Dublin last November.

A team of gardaí at Tallaght station have compiled extensive evidence including film footage, social media posts and dozens of statements from gardaí and members of the public who were caught up in the melee.

It is understood that those still facing arrest will be questioned in connection with public order offences, violent disorder, criminal damage, assault and theft.

Sources say they expect that some suspects will be dealt with summarily by way of the juvenile liaison scheme or adult cautions.

Yesterday the four were questioned about their activities during the protest that saw an angry crowd block Ms Burton in her car for over two hours. Several gardaí were assaulted.

The men who had been held in Rathfarnham, Terenure and Tallaght stations were all released without charge by 4pm and a file is being prepared for the DPP.

Mr Murphy later claimed that his arrest was "an exercise in pure political policing designed to damage the anti-water charges movement".

It is understood that during their time in custody the men were shown extensive video footage recorded during the anti-water charges protest which targeted Ms Burton when she attended a conferral ceremony in Jobstown on November 15.

Detectives believe there is enough evidence to recommend more serious criminal charges against a number of individuals and bring them before the courts.

Last night senior security sources said that gardaí could not be seen to give a Dáil deputy any preferential treatment over any other member of the public and had "no option" but to arrest Mr Murphy.

"If he had been invited by prior appointment to the station he could not be cautioned, searched or informed of his rights. And if he did not like the line of questioning and decided to walk out, then he would have had to be arrested," a source told the Irish Independent.

"By being detained, Mr Murphy and the other individuals were offered their full legal and civil rights including access to a solicitor and doctor, which provide safeguards both for those being detained and the gardaí.

"The suspects wanted for questioning in connection with such alleged offences as these are liable to arrest and can not be given special treatment," the source added.

The Tánaiste was struck with a water balloon and a member of her staff was kicked during the protest outside the An Cosán community college last November.

Her car was surrounded by a large group of protesters and she was unable to leave the area for over two hours. Gardaí who tried to protect the minister were verbally abused, threatened, assaulted and spat on.

The officers were ordered to turn their backs on the protesters and not to engage.

As a result, several pieces of garda equipment were stolen during the incident including pepper spray canisters, batons and handcuffs.

Gardaí suspect that some of the pepper sprays were later used in a number of armed robberies from shops in Crumlin and Tallaght.

Mr Murphy's partner, Farah Mokhtareizadh, said they were "prepared for arrest" but didn't expect gardaí to arrive at 7am on a Monday. She said that six officers arrived at their apartment in south Dublin.

Speaking outside Terenure Garda Station, Mr Murphy said that his arrest was "an exercise in pure political policing designed to damage the anti-water charges movement" and was "an incredible waste of Garda resources".

"We're not guilty in any sense, it's complete nonsense, the idea we're guilty of false imprisonment of anybody. It's disgusting."

Meanwhile, gardaí were called after anti-water charge protesters last night blocked north Dublin councillors from leaving a meeting at the Fingal County Council offices in Swords. Councillor David McGuinness said councillors were prevented from leaving for over 90 minutes.

Irish Independent

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