herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Seven youths aged 14 to 18 are facing trial over protest that trapped Tanaiste for two hours

Courts

Joan Burton, who was trapped in her car at protests. Photo: Tom Burke
Joan Burton, who was trapped in her car at protests. Photo: Tom Burke

SEVEN youths aged 14 to 18 are facing trial on charges connected to the Jobstown water protest during which Tanaiste Joan Burton was allegedly trapped in her car for over two hours.

The case raised "complex constitutional issues" in relation to the right to protest, a judge was told yesterday by a lawyer for one of the defendants.

Three of them are aged 16, there is one 15-year-old, one aged 17, an 18-year-old and the youngest, who was 13 at the time but is now 14.

The young males, who could all face custodial sentences, had their cases adjourned until later dates and a guilty plea was entered by just one of them to criminal damage and violent disorder charges.

The Dublin Children's Court heard he was already serving a sentence for earlier offences and he had behavioural and drug problems, and was deemed to be at a high risk of re-offending as a result of his issues.

The young males, who all come from Tallaght, had been served with summons in July compelling them to appear in the juvenile court yesterday.

Supporters

About a hundred supporters came to the courthouse carrying placards and banners.

An outline of the State's case was given by Det Gda Paul Smith.

The Labour leader and her entourage had left a graduation just after midday on November 15 last at the An Cosan education facility in Jobstown in Tallaght, when an anti-water charges demonstration delayed her. She and her team had been attempting to travel by car to St Thomas's Church, a short distance away, for the rest of the ceremony, said Det Gda Smith.

Gardai allege protesters tried to "get in at" the Labour leader and there were a number of violent incidents during which officers were pushed and missiles thrown.

Six of the youths, including the 14-year-old boy, are charged with violent disorder by using or threatening to use unlawful violence causing others to fear for their safety.

Two of the 16-year-old boys and the 18-year-old youth also have an additional charge for criminal damage to a unmarked Garda car.

Another 16-year-old faces two charges for false imprisonment of the Tanaiste and her political advisor Karen O'Connell, who were in a ministerial car surrounded by protesters.

Judge John O'Connor heard that the other 16-year-old boy, who pleaded guilty to criminal damage and violent disorder, initially wanted his case finalised yesterday, but the judge noted that the latest welfare reports on him were negative.

His solicitor confirmed that the teen agreed to an adjournment until November 26 for updated probation reports to be furnished. The teen is serving a custodial sentence, which is due to expire in January, for theft offences.

Hearing

The DPP also recommended that the remaining five juveniles, who cannot be named, should be tried in the Children's Court and not in the circuit court.

However, the Judge said that a preliminary hearing would have to take place to establish if the Children's Court would accept jurisdiction.

These teens were ordered to appear again in December. Several adults, including Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy are due to appear in court next week in connection with the incident.

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