herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

YouTube video footage key to State's case against Murphy and water charge protesters

Socialist TD Paul Murphy
Socialist TD Paul Murphy

Video footage uploaded to YouTube will form the backbone of the State's case against Socialist TD Paul Murphy and other water protesters accused of falsely imprisoning Tanaiste Joan Burton.

Garda experts have gleaned hours of video footage from the popular website of the demonstration last November which saw Ms Burton pelted with a water balloon and trapped in her car for more than two hours.

Demonstrators and onlookers uploaded footage to the internet of protesters clashing with gardai which was shared across the social media websites Facebook and Twitter.

This evidence, along with footage recorded by gardai, is central to the case put before the Director of Public Prosecutions earlier this year.

"Gardai had one or two cameras there but most of the material is from YouTube," a senior source said.

Mr Murphy and other protesters were shown the video evidence when they were arrested and questioned by gardai.

Tanaiste Joan Burton and her adviser, Karen O'Connell, are likely to be called as key witnesses for the State's case.

Ms Burton met with gardai for more than an hour after the incident and gave her version of the day's events outside a graduation ceremony at Cosan College in Jobstown, Tallaght.

The DPP is due to bring charges against Mr Murphy and 22 other people involved in the protest. The charges include false imprisonment, criminal damage and violent disorder.

The Herald understands some of those charged were not water protesters, but rather locals who became involved in the demonstration.

Mr Murphy yesterday claimed the charges against him and the other demonstrators are politically motivated and an attack on the right to protest.

Fear

The Dublin South West TD yesterday lodged a complaint with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over the charges emerging in the media before he was contacted by gardai. He also complained to the DPP and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan about the matter.

"The consequence of this leak is to spread fear amongst protesters that they will be charged," he claimed.

The TD is due to hold a press conference in Jobstown today, along with members of the community who are facing charges.

Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Niall Collins told Mr Murphy to "step back" from his claims of political policing.

"While I may question the value of prosecuting these individuals, that doesn't really matter. I trust and expect the Gardai and the DPP to follow the evidence and objectively make decisions on the basis of that evidence," Mr Collins told the Herald.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan insisted the charges against Mr Murphy and other demonstrators are "not an attack on the right to protest".

Ms O'Sullivan said Mr Murphy's public comments on the forthcoming court cases were not helpful.

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