Tuesday 23 January 2018

TD Collins in court over water meter demo

Joan Collins: denies charge arising from water protest. Pic: Courtpix
Joan Collins: denies charge arising from water protest. Pic: Courtpix

Tom Tuite

TD Joan Collins told gardaí she had a right to protest and would not move when asked to let a water meter installation crew do their work, a court has heard.

Dublin District Court heard that gardaí and GMC/Sierra workers were verbally abused and threatened by water protesters at Parnell Road in Crumlin, Dublin, on April 20 last.

The outgoing Independent TD was before the court for what has been dubbed the 'Crumlin 11' trial. She and her 10 co-defendants, including Councillor Patrick Dunne (48), with an address at St Gerard's Road, Greenhills, are accused of failing to comply with a garda's direction to leave the vicinity.

Two of her co-defendants have additional charges for obstructing gardaí.

All 11 deny the charges.

Opening the case, James Dwyer, BL for the State, told Judge Aeneas McCarthy that it seemed the right to protest was going to be an issue but the prosecution would challenge this.

The court heard that the Dublin South-Central TD and Cllr Dunne arrived at the scene, where a team of GMC/Sierra meter installers were attempting to do their work but had been met by protesters.

Sergeant David Lynch told the court that when he arrived at Parnell Road, he saw six or seven people interfering with workers. Later on, there were about 30 to 40 protesters.

He said he received verbal abuse and was called a "f***ing scumbag". He told the court that he, other gardaí and the GMC/Sierra workers were threatened.

Sgt Lynch said some of the protesters were trespassing in gardens. He asked the group to desist from this numerous times and was concerned for a lot of young women with children who could not get past.

The sergeant spoke to Joan Collins and another councillor "to get some middle ground to let GMC/Sierra workers do their work or leave" and was told by the TD that "they were entitled to protest and they were not going to move".

Sgt Lynch thought a breach of the peace was likely to occur and gave the protesters a direction under the Public Order Act and outlined to them the penalties for not complying.

In cross-examination, he agreed with lawyers for the defence that Ms Collins and Cllr Dunne had been co-operative and had not been there at the outset of the protest.

He agreed that no one had been charged with trespassing and he did not know why there were only 11 people before the court if there were up to 40 people who did not comply with his direction.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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