Friday 21 October 2016

Ruth Coppinger 'insulted and degraded gardai' with dogs jibe, says Kehoe

Coppinger is remaining defiant
Coppinger is remaining defiant

SOCIALIST TD Ruth Coppinger has been accused of "insulting and degrading" the entire membership of An Garda Siochana in a scathing complaint lodged with the Dail's procedures watchdog by Government chief whip Paul Kehoe.

In the highly critical letter, which has been seen by the Herald, Mr Kehoe said Ms Coppinger "abused" and "impugned the reputations" of the force when she claimed Tanaiste Joan Burton "called out the dogs" on water protesters after she was trapped in a car for two hours.

The now infamous incident in Jobstown, Tallaght resulted in the arrest of 27 protesters, including Socialist TD Paul Murphy, who were involved in the demonstration.

Last night Ms Coppinger insisted she would not withdraw her comment and accused Mr Kehoe of "wasting the Dail's time".

"Under no circumstance will I withdraw the remark because withdrawing the remark would suggest there was something wrong with the remark, which there wasn't," she said.

In February, Ms Coppinger accused the Government of political policing and claimed people in Jobstown feared their first born would be "rounded up" by gardai to "please" the Tánaiste.


"Is her wounded political vanity so precious that she needs this vindictive attempt to criminalise an entire working class community in this way?" Ms Coppinger asked Ms Burton.

A number of TDs, including Mr Kehoe, reacted angrily to the remark and demanded that Ms Coppinger withdraw her comment. Last month, Mr Kehoe sent a formal letter to the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privilege calling on Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett to investigate the comments.

"While asking questions of the Tanaiste, deputy Ruth Coppinger made very insulting and degrading remarks about members of An Garda Síochána, and how they carry out their work," Mr Kehoe wrote.

"I do not think that it is acceptable that the Dáil Chamber should be used by any deputy to abuse and impugn the (reputation of the) entire membership of An Garda Síochána, who were acting in the course of their duty, because that deputy disagrees with the law it is their duty to enforce," he wrote.

Separately, the Courts Service has warned that the Government's plan to pursue those who don't pay their water bills through the courts would place an "excessive burden" on the system, which is already over streteched.

A memo outlining the Courts Service's concerns about the recovery proposals has been circulated to Government departments. Environment Minister Alan Kelly's department has said no decision on enforcement has been made.

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