AN animal rights activist arrested at the scene of a protest outside a city fur shop has been found guilty of a public order offence.
Agnieszka Chojnacka was fined €500 for failing to give gardai her name and address as they investigated a row during a demonstration against the fur trade at a store on Grafton Street.
But she had another charge of obstructing a garda by filming him dismissed after she told Dublin District Court she was not using a camera at the time.
Chojnacka (28) had denied both charges. Gardai had alleged she had been filming them at close quarters while they carried out their duties.
ALiberation, a Dublin-based animal rights group, protests outside Barnardo's, Ireland's oldest furriers every week.
After she was convicted by Judge Dermot Dempsey, Chojnacka, of Edenmore Drive, Dublin 5, lodged notice that she would appeal the decision.
It was the fifth public order case brought against a member of ALiberation, which was picketing the shop.
Three of the other cases have been dismissed while one is under appeal. Dublin District Court heard the incident happened at an otherwise peaceful protest outside Barnardo's Furriers on August 29 last year.
Sgt Paul Tallon told the court he was dealing with an altercation that happened between one of the protesters and a homeless man when the accused approached and started filming him.
He said she was told to move back around eight times and she failed to do so. She then asked him what legislation he was using to tell her to move.
There was a large number of people including tourists in the area and he believed her behaviour may had amounted to a breach of the peace. The garda said the accused also failed to give her name and address. He said he discovered she was using an audio recording device when he arrested her.
The accused denied filming the garda at the scene. She put it to him that he told the other protesters he was taking her to Pearse Street Garda Station when in fact she was brought to Harcourt Terrace. The garda denied this, saying he told those present they could make any complaint they had at Pearse Street. He said the accused was one of several people filming at the scene and the camera she was using was passed back to someone else.
"I had no difficulty with being filmed, I had a difficulty with the manner in which I was being filmed," the garda said.
Representing herself, the accused said she had made no attempt to film the garda. The garda denied taking her video camera and handbag.
Another protester, Edmund Long, said a homeless man came out of the fur shop and made a gesture, grabbing his own neck and pushing his crotch forward. He had trouble from this man before and started recording him.
The man pushed him and deactivated his camera, and one of the gardai then became involved. Mr Long said nobody at the scene stuck a camera between the garda and him. He insisted the accused was not filming them.
A friend of the accused, Gloria Bartolome, also gave evidence that Chojnacka was not filming the gardai.