Friday 20 April 2018

YouTube footage key to State's case against Murphy and protesters

A protester throws a brick at a garda car during the incident in which Joan Burton was trapped for two hours
A protester throws a brick at a garda car during the incident in which Joan Burton was trapped for two hours
Joan Burton

Phillip Ryan and Sam Griffin

Video footage uploaded to YouTube will form the backbone of the State's case against socialist TD Paul Murphy and other water protesters accused of falsely imprisoning Tánaiste Joan Burton.

Garda experts have collected hours of video footage from the popular website of the demonstration last November in which Ms Burton was pelted with a water balloon and trapped in her car for more than two hours.

Demonstrators and onlookers uploaded footage to the internet of protesters clashing with gardaí, which was shared across social media websites Facebook and Twitter.

This evidence, along with footage recorded by gardai, is central to the case put before the Director of Public Prosecutions earlier this year.

"Gardai had one or two cameras there but most of the material is from YouTube," a senior source said.

Mr Murphy and other protesters were shown the video evidence when they were arrested and questioned by garda.

The Tánaiste and her adviser Karen O'Connell are likely to be called as key witnesses in for the State's case.

Ms Burton met gardaí for more than an hour after the incident and gave her version of the events, which took place outside a graduation at Jobstown, Tallaght.

The DPP is due bring charges against Mr Murphy and 22 other people involved in the protest. The charges include false imprisonment, criminal damage and violent disorder.

The Irish Independent understands some of those charged were not water protesters but rather locals who became involved in the demonstration.

Mr Murphy yesterday claimed the charges against him and the other demonstrators are politically motivated and an attack on the right of people to protest.

The Dublin South West TD also lodged a complaint with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over the charges emerging in the media before he was contacted by gardaí.

He also complained to the DPP and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan about the matter.

The Irish Independent understands gardaí launched an investigation into the leak yesterday morning, before Mr Murphy lodged a complaint.

The Socialist TD is holding a press conference in Jobstown this morning, along with members of the community who are also facing charges.

Yesterday, he said people in Jobstown "hated" Ms Burton because of the austerity measures the Labour party supported in Government.

He said Ms Burton and her party were responsible for a "sell-out" on water charges and cuts in child benefit, loan parents and rent allowance.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan insisted the charges against Mr Murphy and other demonstrators are "not an attack on the right to protest".

Ms O'Sullivan said Mr Murphy's public comments on the forthcoming court cases were not helpful.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Niall Collins told Mr Murphy to "step back" from his claims of political policing.

"While I may question the value of prosecuting these individuals, that doesn't really matter.

"I trust and expect the Gardai and the DPP to follow the evidence and objectively make decisions on the basis of that evidence," Mr Collins he said. Sinn Féin's Padraig Mac Lochlainn said the charges against the water charge protesters were "deeply worrying".

Irish Independent

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