Joe Higgins and Ruth Coppinger denounce 'political policing'
SOCIALIST TD Joe Higgins said the arrest of Paul Murphy TD and two anti-austerity alliance councillors was tantamount to "political policing".
Mr Higgins said the manner in which Mr Murphy and the others were arrested was "a disgraceful and criminal waste of Garda time and resources".
Saying the arrests were politically motivated, he accused the Government including the Labour Party of trying to paint Anti-Austerity Alliance activists as criminals.
"I ask the Labour Party about this heavy handed policing at a time when they continually lie to people and break election promises," he said.
He said the arrests were "another cheap attempt to denigrate" the water charge protest movement.
He said it was disgraceful and outrageous that six gardai entered Paul Murphy's home yesterday morning shortly after 7am.
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin, Mr Higgins said: "The arrests of Paul Murphy, councillors Kieran Mahon and Mick Murphy and Scott Masterson is a cheap attempt to denigrate and weaken the water charges movement as we approach make-or-break time. Bills are coming out and there is a need for mass non-payment."
Mr Higgins said gardai established an incident room at Tallaght station and have constantly enquired about Paul Murphy's connection with the events of November 15 in Jobstown.
He said: "Ordinary people in Tallaght will see this as way over the top and a disgraceful and criminal waste of Garda time and resources."
Mr Higgins visited those arrested before he arrived at the press conference.
Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger insisted the protest which saw Tánaiste Joan Burton detained in her car for almost three hours was "strong but peaceful".
"The local police recognised the role the AAA played and even thanked Paul Murphy," she added.
Speaking upon his release from Tallaght Garda Station, Cllr Mahon agreed with the TD's view that the arrests and questioning were aimed at pinpointing Mr Murphy as the leader of the November 15 protest.
"We were aware that there was a huge team looking at evidence of what had gone on in Jobstown, particularly with the view of attacking Paul Murphy over the last few months and attacking the AAA, and using that as a way to demonise the wider protests going on across the State at the moment," he said.
Tanaiste Joan Burton's spokesman confirmed she had been interviewed by gardai in relation to the attack but offered no comment on Mr Murphy's arrest saying it would be inappropriate to do so.