Dáil told Jobstown trial a ‘stunning defeat for establishment’
Tánaiste says it is ‘quite simply untrue’ to say the Government had agenda in this case
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has rejected as ‘quite simply untrue’ claims by Solidarity TD Mick Barry that the Government had an agenda in the Jobstown trial. Photograph: Collins Photos
Mr Barry congratulated the six defendants who were found not guilty of the false imprisonment of former Labour tánaiste Joan Burton and her assistant during anti-water charge protests in 2014.
He read out each of the their names in the Dáil and said “not guilty” after each name.
The Cork North-Central TD described the verdict as “a stunning defeat for the political establishment” which he claimed wanted “to create a powerful chill factor” to stop protests.
And he claimed “an orchestrated conspiracy” by An Garda Síochána to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Barry also claimed more than €10 million is being spent on trying to make out that Jobstown protesters were guilty.
“Let’s save money here. Let’s be prudent. Let’s drop all remaining charges,” he said.
Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan intervened to say “the House cannot instruct the courts” to which Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl replied: “There’s nobody instructing anybody, as far as I can see.”
Ms Fitzgerald said however that the Dáil should not “rerun the evidence”.
She said: “We respect the court decision, of course. This was a jury trial. The jury makes its decision and justice takes it course.”
The Tánaiste added: “We can discuss a lot of things in this House but we certainly do not rerun the evidence that is given in a trial and I certainly do not intend to do that now.”
Mr Barry then described Ms Burton as the “star witness for the State” and he hit out at the Labour Party, claiming it had engaged in “a shabby attempt to frame socialists for standing up for their communities and against austerity”.
When Labour leader Brendan Howlin described his comments as “shocking”, Mr Barry said ordinary people would look at the role of the Labour party in this as “shocking”. Mr Howlin said that was “an outrageous argument”.
Mr Barry called for Ms Fitzgerald to comment on “the appalling vista that now opens up” about the the role of An Garda Síochána in the case, and he claimed that it was based on 180 statements by gardaí, which the jury rejected.
The Solidarity TD said that in three of the statements – from a chief superintendent, an inspector and a sergeant – they said they heard Solidarity TD Paul Murphy say: “Will we let her go or will we keep her all night?”
Mr Barry said that claim was completely contradicted by the video evidence.
“Can the Tánaiste deny that there was an orchestrated conspiracy by the Garda Síochána to pervert the course of justice?”
Mr Barry claimed the Government used the Jobstown case in an “attempt to gain revenge against those of us on the Left who have defeated you on the issue of water charges”.
“The left are on the front foot now,” he said.
The Tánaiste said it was precedent not to comment in detail on a case while it was under way. “We follow that very carefully as in many cases there is always the possibility of appeal.”