Paul Murphy's arrest was not political policing - rank and file gardai
Rank and file garda leader P J Stone has dismissed claims by Dail deputy Paul Murphy that a garda investigation into anti water charges protests in south Dublin were subjected to political interference.
As a result of the protests in Jobstown, Tallaght, Tanaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her official car for two hours while there were also allegations of assault and public order offences by some of the protesters.
Garda have since carried out a comprehensive investigation into the Jobstown incident and this culminated in the arrest of Anti Austerity Alliance TD, Paul Murphy and others.
Mr Murphy later claimed that his arrest and the detention of two councillors were the result of political policing.
He also alleged that a subsequent decision by the local garda chief superintendent to refuse a permit to the Alliance to carry out a door to door collection was influenced by political policing.
Mr Stone said last night that since its foundation, the Garda Representative Association, of which he is general secretary, had campaigned vociferously against political interference in policing.
"There is no evidence to suggest that any aspect of this investigation was subject to political interference", he added.
"Yet once again, politicians are quick to use policing as a tool of political communication, thrusting it into partisan politics", Mr Stone wrote in an editorial in the latest issue of the association's magazine, Garda Review.
Mr Stone said the arrest of Paul Murphy had been described as "politically motivated", "over the top" and "heavy handed". suggesting that garda resources should be deployed differently.
"Would those same voices have supported an invitation issued to Paul Murphy to attend an interview in a garda station at a specified time, if a resultant mass protest deteriorated into a public order situation", Mr Stone asked.
He also asked if Dail deputies should be treated differently to other citizens in criminal investigations.
"Is that what is inferred in 'political policing'. Six members were deployed to secure his arrest and several arrests were made simultaneously to avoid compromising the investigation or contaminating statements", he said.
He said the timing of the arrest and the numbers deployed on the operation were dependant on a number of factors, including a risk assessment to minimise any harm or inconvenience to members of the public.
"Just because Mr Murphy is an elected member of the Dail, for example, should gardai naturally infer that he does not own a dog capable of biting? Are Dail deputies to be afforded different treatment?".