Nine in court over protests at south Co Dublin centre for asylum seekers

Ballyogan centre: Five men and four women were charged at Dun Laoghaire District Court in connection with protest

Five men and four women have appeared before Dun Laoghaire District Court charged with offences connected to a “heated” protest at an asylum seeker accommodation site in south Dublin on Wednesday evening.

All nine appeared before Judge Anne Watkin charged with public order offences, alleged to have occurred on Wednesday evening outside Ballyogan Temporary Rest Centre.

Those charged were: Colin McGettrick (47), of Viking Harbour, Ushers Island, Dublin 8, David Noonan (49), New Oak Estate, Carlow; Lisa Burnett (33), of Ballyogan Vale, Carrickmines, Dublin 18; Kathy Kennedy (25), of Glenamuck Road, Kilternan, Dublin 18; Scott Cullen (39), Ballyogan Vale, Carrickmines, Dublin 18; Danielle McGearty (31), of Ash Hall, Larkfield, Dublin 18; Megan Isaacson (20), of Hillview Grove, Ballinteer, Dublin 16; Sean Rush (33), of Edenmore Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 5; and Graham Carragher (60), of Furry Hill Estate, Sandyford, Dublin 18.

The defendants were variously charged under Section 6, 8 and 9 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994. The offences include allegations of not following Garda instructions, and willfully preventing or interrupting the free passage of a person or vehicle.


Mr Rush faces a further charge, contrary to Section 9(1) of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990. It is alleged that he was in the possession of a Stanley knife. Judge Watkin refused jurisdiction in the case of the alleged possession, meaning the charge will be dealt with in a higher court.

Gardaí made objections to bail in the cases of all nine defendants before the court. Superintendent Gordon Wolfe outlined how gardaí were concerned about defendants potentially interfering with a witness at the scene of the incident on Wednesday night.

The court heard how the witness, an elderly woman working at the accommodation centre, was “effectively barricaded” into her place of work during the protest. This was despite repeated requests of protestors to allow her to leave the site. They were aware that she suffered from health issues, the court heard.

Supt Wolfe said that the witness was unwilling to attend court on Thursday morning as she was too intimidated.

Solicitors for the defendants opposed the bail objection. Solicitor Andy Vallely said that the objection was “speculative”.

Judge Watkin said there was “not sufficient evidence” before the court to object to bail, noting that the matters before the court – apart from Mr Rush’s weapon charge – were summary matters. She said that people were entitled to their views, but not to interfere with the rights of others.

Judge Watkin remanded eight of the defendants on bail on strict conditions. She ordered that they stay away from the Ballyogan accommodation centre, and that they not have any contact with staff or occupants at the centre. They were also ordered to sign on at their local Garda stations.

Mr Rush’s bail application was adjourned until next Wednesday at Cloverhill Courthouse.

Supt Wolfe said he struggled to call Wednesday evening’s incident a protest. “I believe it was a large gathering of people engaged in criminal behaviour,” he said.

This comment lead to protestations from some of the accused, who were sitting together on a bench in the courtroom.

Judge Watkin said she was “well aware” of the difference between protest and criminal behaviour. “They were there to engage in a protest,” she said.

Judge Watkin stopped proceedings on several occasions due to disruption in the courtroom.

Three of the accused – Lisa Burnett, Colin McGettrick and Scott Cullen – were held in contempt of court during the hearing. All three later purged their contempt by apologising to the court.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist