Friday 24 November 2017

Paul's day behind bars keeps Irish Water on the boil

Paul Murphy was arrested at his home in Dublin
Paul Murphy was arrested at his home in Dublin
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

Paul Murphy trudged out of Terenure Garda Station to where a scrum of reporters, photographers, TV cameras and a handful of supporters awaited.

The Socialist Party TD was dressed casually, in jeans, jumper and runners - just the sort of clobber one would hurriedly don if six gardai came calling before breakfast.

He had spent more than eight hours in custody before being sprung without any charge, undergoing two separate two-hour interviews regarding his movements at the Jobstown protest last November during which Tánaiste Joan Burton and a member of her staff were trapped in her car for over two hours by anti-water charges demonstrators.

Paul's visage was a medley of incredulity and indignation. As far as he was concerned, the charge of false imprisonment levelled at him (and also at two Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors and an Éirígí spokesman who were also arrested early doors yesterday and subsequently released without charge) was "trumped up", he claimed. "We're not guilty in any sense, it's complete nonsense, the idea we're guilty of false imprisonment of anybody. It's disgusting," he declared.

It certainly seemed a bit over-the-top on the part of the gardaí to send a couple of carloads of police for a dawn visit to his front door, and, understandably, Paul found it both "shocking" and "intimidating".

Nonetheless, he was having absolutely no truck with any suggestion that he played any part in the thuggish treatment of the Tánaiste and her political adviser in Jobstown. In fact, he reckoned the whole ugly affair had been blown out of proportion by Joan herself.

"Initially after the event Joan Burton played down what had happened to her - I believe it's the case she hammed it up afterwards in order to try to gain political capital," he claimed.

Moreover, not only was the palaver all the Tánaiste's fault, but Paul insisted his arrest was "an exercise in pure political policing designed to damage the anti-water charges movement. There is no other explanation," he asserted firmly.

This was a war-cry which was invoked ad infinitum throughout the day at a press conference and over the airwaves by the Dublin South-West deputy's political allies.

At an earlier press conference in Buswell's Hotel, hastily organised when news broke of Paul's arrest, Socialist Party deputies Joe Higgins and Ruth Coppinger and some of their colleagues were dizzy from inhaling the rarified air of the high moral ground.

"Outrageous," repeated Joe. "It's political policing, it's an attempt to try and damage the anti-water charges movement and it won't succeed," he vowed.

Ruth also claimed a spot on the grassy knoll of conspiracy. "Where is this investigation coming from? Direct orders from the Government via the Department of Justice may or may not be the case but it is more likely that the Garda have decided to exaggerate and trump up the events of November 15 last year to help the Government who are on the back foot on the water charges," she reckoned.

Mind you, it's doubtful that anyone in Government Buildings was turning cartwheels as the ladies and gentlemen of the Left basked in the day-long spotlight, dragging the whole water charges debacle back onto the front-burner just as it appeared to be simmering down nicely.

Nor will they relish the image of coppers (albeit members of a force decidedly cheesed off at being on the sharp end of thoroughly nasty carry-on by a small number of loolahs who scoff at the concept of 'peaceful protest') going mob-handed to arrest folks while so many nicely-ironed white collars remain unfelt.

But Joe Higgins was in his element. He materialised at Terenure Garda Station and wriggled his way into the post-arrest press melee, eager to laud Paul as a latter-day Mandela Murphy who had taken his own walk to freedom down the concrete drive of the cop-shop after eight hours' incarceration.

"Dragged from their beds ..." Joe pronounced dramatically. Um, not quite. The gardaí had been "forceful" at the door but "not rude," said Paul. And during his time in pokey, "people were very polite, very helpful". They had even fed him rolls for breakfast and lunch.

Oh but that didn't dim the excitement among his comrades. Earlier, an animated Ruth revealed that their offices had been "inundated' with calls of support. "People are saying 'Je Suis Murphy' and so on, putting it on their Facebook profile".

Talk about over-the-top. Je Suis Dumbstruck by the asinine comparison.

To be sure, the arrests of the four men almost three full months after the Jobstown protest seems heavy-handed.

But the Tánaiste as a citizen has rights, too,

To borrow a famous phrase from a US political debate, you, Deputy Murphy, are no Charlie Hebdo.

Irish Independent

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