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Garda tells Jobstown protest trial he feared for safety of Joan Burton

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

A garda inspector has told the trial of seven men charged with falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton that he was concerned for her safety during a water charge protest in November 2014.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (34) along with South Dublin Councillors Michael Murphy (53) and Kieran Mahon (39) and four other men have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her advisor Karen O'Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.

On day nine of the trial the jury were shown footage taken on the day initially showing An Cosán, an adult education centre building. Ms Burton and her advisor were in Jobstown to attend a graduation ceremony of students from the An Cosán.

The footage showed protestors gathering outside the building. Some of these could be heard booing and shouting "shame on you", "out, out, out", "traitor" and "no way, we won't pay".

Padraig Dwyer SC, for accused Frank Donaghy (71), told the jury that his client wanted to formally make an admission of his presence on the footage. He could be seen standing in front of a group, including Ms Burton and gardai, which was walking from the An Cosán centre to the nearby church.

Counsel said he wanted to stress that it was not alleged that Ms Burton or Ms O'Connell were falsely imprisoned during this walk. He said the events alleged occurred later.

Further footage played showed the graduates and Ms Burton arriving at the entrance to the church. Inspector Derek Maguire identified in the footage Katherine Zappone TD, now Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, standing in the group with Ms Burton.

Individuals could be heard on the recording saying "bitch", "traitor" and "you're not welcome in Jobstown" before Ms Burton and the others enter the church for the graduation ceremony.

Insp Maguire told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that he then called for more gardai to come to the scene because he was concerned for the safety of Ms Burton.

"I was concerned for the safety of the Tánaiste. I needed to get extra resources.

"I needed to get more gardai to the scene," he said.

Inspector Maguire later told the jury that the defendants, Mr Donaghy, Paul Murphy, Scott Masterson, Michael Banks and Michael Murphy could be seen on the video footage as Ms Burton was sitting in a garda car surrounded by protestors.

He said that some protesters can be seen sitting down at the back of the car. He said some of them were seen getting up and going around to the side of the car.

Paul Murphy TD of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon of Holbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy, of Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have denied the charges.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.