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Friday 22 September 2017

TD Murphy 'asked the crowd if they would let Tanaiste go', court told

TD Paul Murphy
TD Paul Murphy

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy asked a crowd of protesters if they would let former Tanaiste Joan Burton go if gardai withdrew the public order unit, a court has heard.

Ms Burton had eggs and water balloons thrown at her before being "trapped" in a garda vehicle for around three hours by anti-water charge demonstrators in Jobstown, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.

Mr Murphy has pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Ms Burton and her special adviser Karen O'Connell on Fortunestown Road on November 15, 2014.

Six other men who face identical charges have also pleaded not guilty.

They are councillors Kier- an Mahon (39) and Mich- ael Murphy (53); and Tallaght residents Frank Donaghy (71), of Alpine Rise; Ken Purcell (50), of Kiltalown Green; Mich- ael Banks (46), of Brookview Green; and Scott Masterson (34), of Carrigmore Drive.

Sean Gillane, prosecuting, said the crowds refused to disperse, even when a garda public order unit arrived.

They surrounded two garda vehicles, one of which was carrying Ms Burton and Ms O'Connell, and some sat on the ground to prevent their exit.

Mr Gillane told the jury they would hear evidence that Mr Murphy (34) had addressed the protesters, allegedly asking: "If they withdraw the public order unit, will we let her go?"

The court was told Ms Burton had been invited to a ceremony marking the graduation of 60 students from the An Cosan adult education service when trouble flared.

Animated

Mr Gillane said the issue of water charges was the subject of "fierce debate and comment" at the time, and people "exercised and animated by the issue" arrived at the graduation.

On her way into the church where the graduation ceremony was being held, "strong language" was directed at Ms Burton and eggs and water balloons were thrown in her direction.

While Ms Burton and Ms O'Connell were in the church, the number of protesters grew and "a mood of hostility began to develop and deepen".

The women tried to leave by a side entrance and get into a garda car, but it was immediately surrounded.

People banged on the roof, there was shouting and roaring and items were thrown in the direction of the car.

The prosecution said efforts to persuade the protesters to leave were ignored and att-empts to remove them were hampered. The two women got into the car at 12.45pm but were forced to remain in it for about an hour.

Garda public order officers helped form "a human cordon" to get them into a another garda vehicle. It too was surrounded, people banged on the roof and "language of a particular colour" was directed at Ms Burton.

The women were trapped in the second vehicle for two hours before they could climb out and run to two waiting garda cars which took them away.

Mr Gillane said people were entitled to express their political views but a particular cause or grievance, no matter how honestly held, did not make anyone immune from the law.

Ms Burton was expected to give evidence today.

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