Father and daughter charged over Gaza protest at Israeli embassy

Stephen Bennett (42) and Saoirse Bennett (20) arrested after protest in Dublin

Stephen Bennett with his daughter Saoirse Bennett leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Stephen Bennett with his daughter Saoirse Bennett leaving Dublin District Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 01:00

A father and daughter appeared in court yesterday charged with resisting arrest and criminal damage during a protest at the Israeli embassy in Dublin.

Stephen Bennett (42) and his daughter Saoirse Bennett (20) were arrested after they attended a rally at the embassy on Pembroke Road to protest against Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The Bennetts, who have an address at Pearse Green, Sallynoggin, Dublin, face charges of resisting arrest and an allegation that they unlawfully damaged a sign at the embassy.

They have not yet entered pleas but were granted conditional bail by Judge Michael Coghlan who said if vandalism occurred “it only attracts from the wrong protests”.

The court heard it was alleged Ms Bennett “broke a sign that was on top of a wall outside the embassy” and was arrested a short distance from the scene.

During the bail hearing, her solicitor Michael Finucane argued that the damage could have been caused by any one of a number of people who had been present.

Gardaí had asked the court to impose a bail condition compelling the accused to stay away from the embassy. After taking instructions from his client, Mr Finucane said she agreed to be of good behaviour.

The judge said he noted the context in which it is alleged the incident occurred and he ordered the activist not to trespass at the Israeli embassy.

Mr Finucane also said he was asking for CCTV evidence from the scene to be prepared.

Mr Bennett was described by his solicitor Cahir O’Higgins as an activist who protests legitimately and the lawyer added that his client would do so in a lawful and peaceful manner. The pair were remanded on bail to appear again in September to allow directions from the DPP to be obtained.