TD Paul Murphy among 23 to be charged over water protest

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy is among 23 people to be charged in relation to the Jobstown incident in which Tanaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for two hours.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided to bring charges against those who were involved in a protest last November that saw Ms Burton trapped in a car for nearly two hours.

They will face a variety of charges, including false imprisonment and criminal damage, it is believed. 

Mr Murphy, along with Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors Kieran Murphy and Mick Murphy, will face charges in relation to the incident. 

Speaking this morning, Murphy criticised the manner in which the Gardai operated. 

"Do I think this was political policing? Yes, absolutely," he said. "Ten days of arrests one after the other in the context of a movement that challenges the Government on water charges.

"That is not normal Garda procedure, and gardaí contacted me afterwards to say that that’s not normal procedure."

Ms Burton met with Gardai following the incident on 15 November, and provided them with her version of events in an hour-long interview. She previously said she saw Mr Murphy at the event, who was "ecstatic" and "grinning from ear to ear, like a child."

Video footage emerged showing the Tánaiste being hit by a water balloon and being forced to sit in a car for nearly two hours as up to 100 protesters blocked the road.

She was eventually transferred to a different car by gardaí before she managed to leave the area.

Paul Murphy told the Irish Independent last night that the move is "a serious attack on civil liberties and the right to protest. I don't believe I or others committed false imprisonment, I reject that in its entirety," he said.
He also spoke on Morning Ireland on RTE this morning: "The first we heard of the charges was when it appeared on the 9 O'Clock news, I am disappointed that it was leaked to multiple crime correspondents."
"It is absolutely farcical to suggest that false imprisonment took place. It stretches the definition of false imprisonment beyond all recognition. This is clearly an attack on the right to protest."
"What we have seen is political policing. It was an attack on the socialist movement. It's draconian.
"I don't believe the gardai did their job. The dawn raids were not the norm. Gardai contacted me afterwards and said it should have been arrest by appointment.
"I do not believe that anyone should face charges for delaying the Tanaiste in her car for a few hours.
"Irish Water has been a disaster for the government, now what we are seeing is an attempt to criminalise protest."