herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

'I'll never forget it' - Burton on Jobstown protest five years on

Former Labour leader Joan Burton
Former Labour leader Joan Burton

Former Tanaiste Joan Burton has said she is still traumatised by the highly charged Jobstown protest of 2014, in which she was trapped inside a car for three hours.

Five years ago, the Labour Party TD had been in the suburb of Tallaght to attend a graduation ceremony at An Cosan Education Centre.

Afterwards, Ms Burton and her then adviser, Karen O'Connell, were delayed in a garda jeep outside the building for three hours when the vehicle was surrounded by demonstrators protesting water charges.

The vehicle was slowly able to move up Fortunestown Road, where the two were able to run to waiting garda cars.

Six people, including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, were charged with false imprisonment.

Forgotten

However, in 2017 the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found them all not guilty. Five years on, Ms Burton said the incident was far from forgotten.

"I think an awful lot of people remember [the protest] because an awful lot of people still mention it and mention it all the time," she told the Herald at the Citywest Convention Centre (inset right).

"It was extremely traumatic so I don't think either of us will ever forget it.

"However, I think a lot of people feel what happened was really wrong."

Meanwhile, the former Labour leader added the reception on the doors during this election had been "very positive".

"The amount of negativity has been significantly smaller than it was at the time of the last local elections," she said. "Labour was targeted particularly by the hard left, Sinn Fein and the Solidarity party in quite a vicious way.

"It was because we're left-centre and from their revolutionary perspective their biggest goal is to try and destroy parties like ours."

In Ms Burton's constituency of Fingal, Labour gained an extra two seats, taking six overall. Robert O'Donoghue, who returned to the campaign after open-heart surgery, topped the poll in Rush-Lusk.

He said Labour had worked hard and the electorate recognised it.

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