TD Collins in court over 'Crumlin 11' water protest trial
TD Joan Collins told gardai she had a right to protest and would not move when asked to let a water meter installation crew in Dublin do their work, a court has heard.
Dublin District Court was told gardai and GMC/Sierra workers were verbally abused with foul and disgraceful language and were threatened by water protesters at Parnell Road in Crumlin on the morning of April 20 last.
The outgoing independent TD and Right2Change campaigner was before the court for what has been dubbed the 'Crumlin 11' trial.
She and her 10 co-defendants including councillor Patrick Dunne (48) with an address at St Gerard's Road, Greenhills, are accused of failing to comply with a garda's direction to leave the vicinity.
Two of her co-defendants have additional charges for obstructing gardai.
All 11 deny the charges.
Opening the non-jury trial, James Dwyer BL for the State told Judge Aeneas McCarthy that it seemed the right to protest was going to be an issue which the prosecution would challenge.
The court heard that the Dublin South-Central TD and Cllr Dunne arrived at the scene where a team of GMC/Sierra water meter installers were attempting to do their work but were met by protesters.
Garda Sergeant David Lynch told the court that when he arrived at Parnell Road he saw six or seven people interfering with workers. Later on there were about 30 to 40 protesters there, he said.
He said he received verbal abuse and was called "f***ing scumbag". He told the court that he, other gardai and the GMC/Sierra workers were threatened.
He said some of the protesters were trespassing in gardens. He asked the group to desist numerous times and he was concerned for a lot young women with children who could not get past and had to cross the road.
He spoke to Joan Collins and another councillor and was told by the TD that "they were entitled to protest and they were not going to move".
Gda Sgt Lynch thought a breach of the peace was likely to occur and he gave the protesters a direction under the public order act numerous times and asked them to move on peacefully.
"With that they became more agitated and abusive and sat down," he said.
In cross-examination he agreed that Joan Collins and Cllr Dunne had been co-operative and had not been there at the outset of the protest.
Another garda told the court that one of the protesters had to be pepper-sprayed.
The trial continues today.