Wednesday 25 April 2018

Varadkar: Joan Burton was 'terrorised' at Jobstown protest

Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton
Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said he thinks Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O'Connell were "terrorised" during the Jobstown protest.

He said "I think you can see the fear in their faces when you look at the coverage".

Mr Varadkar was speaking in the Dáil as he responded to a question from Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, who was found not guilty of false imprisonment in relation to the water charge protest that took place in 2014.

Mr Murphy said he hadn't been in the Dáil for ten weeks because he was prosecuted along with six others for alleged false imprisonment.

He argued that the case - where all defendants were acquitted - has "very serious ramifications" for those who might exercise their right to protest.

He asked Mr Varadkar if he will bring forward legislation to establish a public inquiry into the Garda investigation of the Jobstown protest and what he claimed was "the clear evidence of conspiracy to stitch up protesters for false imprisonment."

Paddy Hill (centre) of the Birmingham Six and founder of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation with Jobstown defendants (from the left) Kieran Mahon, Michael Murphy, Paul Murphy and Frank Donaghy at a rally yesterday. Picture: Collins
Paddy Hill (centre) of the Birmingham Six and founder of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation with Jobstown defendants (from the left) Kieran Mahon, Michael Murphy, Paul Murphy and Frank Donaghy at a rally yesterday. Picture: Collins

Mr Murphy said there has been an attempt to "laugh at the notion of a conspiracy".

He added: "A conspiracy is a secret plan by a group of people to do something unlawful or harmfull. "

He claimed that one example of this is: "Three Gardaí under oath up to the rank of superintendent saying what I said ‘will we keep her here all night’, when I said no such thing.

 "You can talk about frailty of human memory for one, maybe even for two but for three guards to say and hear a thing that simply didn’t happen."

Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher warned Mr Murphy that the Dáil chamber is "not a court" and asked Mr Varadkar to answer the question about legislation to establish an inquiry.

Mr Varadkar said: "The government doesn’t have any proposals to bring forward legislation for a public inquiry on this issue.

"It appears to me that Deputy Murphy and his co-defendants got a fair trial. The jury heard the case. They heard both sides of the case and all the evidence and they decided to acquit.

"But I don’t think that means that the behaviour that we saw in Jobstown was decent or acceptable.

"And I think that the way that Deputy Burton and Karen O’Connell were treated was very wrong. I think they were terrorised. I think you can see the fear in their faces when you look at the coverage," Mr Varadkar added.

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