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Tuesday 24 April 2018

TDs want Jobstown guilty verdict overturned

Five of the protesters cleared in the Jobstown protest prosecution (from left) Deputy Paul
Murphy, Mick Banks, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy and Mick Murphy Photo: Tom Burke
Five of the protesters cleared in the Jobstown protest prosecution (from left) Deputy Paul Murphy, Mick Banks, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy and Mick Murphy Photo: Tom Burke

Gavin White

A number of TDs and academics have supported calls to overturn the ruling that a 17-year-old was guilty of false imprisonment at the Jobstown protest in 2014.

The youth was found guilty by the Children's Court but was discharged and spared a criminal conviction on the condition of good behaviour for a nine-month period. He was 15 at the time of his arrest for the offence.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the Jobstown Not Guilty group - supported by opposition TDs and academics - called for an appeal against the young man's guilty verdict.

The group said the ruling was made in a 'judge-only court', and that it was on the basis of "Garda evidence which was discredited in front of a jury".

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five others were found not guilty on Thursday of the false imprisonment of former Labour Party leader Joan Burton and her assistant during an anti-water charge protest in 2014.

A statement from the Jobstown Not Guilty group claimed that this trial had "exposed very serious and worrying flaws in the Garda investigation into the protest".

It added that there was a "serious issue" that "inaccurate and misleading evidence was repeatedly given by multiple gardaí" at last week's trial. People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said "another expensive trial" needed to be avoided as the Jobstown Not Guilty campaign appealed for a public inquiry into the trial.

Mr Barrett said there were "serious issues" from what the jury decided about the evidence that was presented.

"People were on a protest that was on a legitimate issue that was affecting them. It needs to be investigated that the State colluded in a political fix up of people in Jobstown."

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Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent it would be "completely unjust" if the young man did not have his conviction overturned.

"It does establish the idea that someone can be convicted for false imprisonment as a result of peacefully protesting.

"Video evidence that was used to convict him was completely discredited in our trial."

The group has also called for an independent public inquiry into how the Garda investigation into the protest was conducted.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in the Dáil on Tuesday: "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. It heard both sides of the case and all the evidence and 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.

Irish Independent

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