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Pregnant anti-water protester charged with assault

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Stephen and Saoirse Bennett

Stephen and Saoirse Bennett

Stephen and Saoirse Bennett

A PREGNANT woman has been accused of assaulting a female garda sergeant and damaging two officers' uniforms during Wednesday's anti-water charge protests in Dublin.

Saoirse Bennett (21) appeared in court yesterday on multiple charges along with her father and another man after they were arrested during the rally that saw up to 50,000 protesters take to the streets.

Ms Bennett and her father Stephen (43), both political activists from Pearse Green, Sallynoggin and Barry O'Sullivan (36), of Sli An Chanail, Leixlip, Co Kildare were granted bail at Dublin District Court.

Judge Michael Walsh adjourned their cases to January.

Three other people who were arrested have been released without charge.

Saoirse Bennett is charged with assaulting a garda sergeant, obstructing her and damaging her jacket, as well as damaging another officer's uniform.

She is also charged with breach of the peace at D'Olier Street.

Stephen Bennett is accused of preventing the free passage of a garda van at Burgh Quay. Mr O'Sullivan is charged with obstructing a vehicle and breach of the peace at the junction of O'Connell Street and Aston Quay.

All three are charged with failing to comply with garda directions.

Garda Anthony Brazil told the court Mr Bennett's response to the first charge was: "It is a sign of a morally and ethically corrupt gardai to pull charges out of their a**e to manufacture breaches of bail conditions." He made a similar reply to the second count.

arrested

Another garda said he arrested Mr O'Sullivan at the junction of O'Connell Bridge and Aston Quay and he made no reply to the charges.

There were no objections to bail in Mr O'Sullivan's case but gardai objected to bail being granted in the case of Mr Bennett and his daughter.

Garda Brazil said Mr Bennett was arrested protesting on the street, "having been asked to desist from his behaviour".

He was sitting on the street and refused to move, having been requested twice, the garda said.

Judge Walsh granted bail to Ms Bennett and her father, in their own bonds of €300. Following submissions by defence solicitor Stephen O'Mahony, the judge refused to impose conditions on Ms Bennett, including garda requests for a curfew and a ban on entering Dublin 2.

Mr Bennett's bail was set on condition that he lives at his home address and not commit any offences. The judge said Mr Bennett was not a flight risk.

In all three cases, the judge told the gardai to enquire about the availability of CCTV footage.

He added that Ireland had a "long history of peaceful protests".

Most of yesterday's crowds gathered outside Government Buildings on Merrion Square but thousands of demonstrators broke away to block O'Connell Street.

hnews@herald.ie


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