Gardai to ask Tanaiste Joan Burton for victim impact statement over Jobstown water protest

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Tanaiste Joan Burton
Tanaiste Joan Burton

TWO teenage boys have pleaded guilty to taking part in violence during the Jobstown water protest in 2014 and had sentencing adjourned for enquiries to find out if the Tanaiste wants to give a victim impact statement.

The Labour leader and her entourage were allegedly trapped in a ministerial car following a graduation ceremony just after midday on November 15th at An Cosan education facility in Jobstown in Tallaght.

An anti-Irish Water demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours. Gardai allege violence broke out after protesters encroached on and surrounded the car.

Twenty four people, including six juvenile males as well as Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and 17 other adults, are facing a variety of serious charges arising out of incident.

Two boys, aged 15 and 16, pleaded guilty today at the Dublin Children's Court to violent disorder charges. The 16-year-old also admitted breaking a windscreen on a garda car during confrontations between gardai and protesters.

Judge O'Connor adjourned sentencing until a date next month. He noted the pair did not face false imprisonment charges but said the incident would been a very frightening experience for the Tanaiste.

He ordered gardai to find out if she or her assistant wanted to make victim impact statements. He also said the incident was an aggressive form of bullying and an attack on the state.

However, he also noted they were not politically motivated and said the teens had to be given credit for their guilty pleas. Pre-sentence probation reports on the teens were also sought by the judge.

The boys were aged and 14 and 15 at the time and one of them had psychological and educational issues, Judge John O'Connor also heard. Both of the boys were accompanied to court by their mothers and their cases were heard separately.

Det Garda Paul Smith of Tallaght station told Judge O'Connor a large crowd gathered and tried to block the Tanaiste's car. During the course of the day there were a number of altercations with youths and adults in the area. It was alleged the 16-year-old was “pushing and shoving gardai”. He was cautioned a number of times to leave the area but refused to go and was aggressive, and among an aggressive group who were obstructing gardai from carrying out their duty.

He also broke the windscreen of a garda car, the court was told. The 16-year-old has five criminal convictions, one for theft and five counts of breach of the peace, for which he was placed on supervised probation for 12 months in July last year. 

Det Gda Smith agreed with the defence counsel Stephen McCrea that there were a number youths involved and he said the teenager “got caught up in the day's events”.

The court has heard the out-of-school teenager had education difficulties and had attended a youth club and a drug course but had no mental health issues.

Det Gda Smith told the court the 15-year-old defendant had been aggressive and was also pushing and shoving gardai and throwing eggs. However he accepted that it was uncharacteristic of the boy who had no prior criminal convictions.

The court has heard that teenager had “significant difficulties” and these included Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and also depression and has anger-management difficulties. The manager of an early school leavers programme told the court the youth was intelligent, could do well if he gets back into eduction and knows what he wants to do in his future.

Another teenage boy who has pleaded guilty earlier to criminal damage and violent disorder charges is also due to be sentenced in March in the Children's Court.

On Monday, a 17-year-old boy entered a not guilty plea at the juvenile court to a violent disorder charge; he will face trial in April.

Another 15-year-old is due back in court this month to enter a plea to a violent disorder charge. A 17-year-old boy accused of false imprisonment of Tanaiste Joan Burton and her advisor during the protest is also due back in court later this month for ruling on his trial venue.

Last month, Paul Murphy TD was sent forward for trial accused of false imprisonment of the Labour leader and her advisor. The DPP consented to him and 17 other people from Dublin being returned for trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where they will face their next hearing on January 22nd.

They face a variety of charges which include false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage to garda cars.