Boy said he was sorry for stress he caused Joan Burton

‘Joany in your ivory tower – this is called people power’

A schoolboy accused of the false imprisonment of former Tánaiste Joan Burton during the Jobstown protest told arresting gardaí he was sorry for taking part and for the stress he caused her.

The 17-year-old boy denies falsely imprisoning the former Labour leader and her advisor Karen O'Connell who were allegedly trapped in two garda cars for three hours during the demonstration at the Fortunestown Road in Jobstown in Tallaght on November 15th, 2014.

The boy was aged 15 at the time and has been on trial all week at the Dublin Children’s Court.

The Dublin West TD has told the court she was frightened and did not think she had the alternative of being able to get out of Garda cars surrounded by people shouting abuse and banging on windows.

The State closed its case on Wednesday evening and the boy's barrister Giollaoisa Ó Lideadha SC has asked Judge John King to return a verdict of not guilty based on the prosecution evidence, the meaning of false imprisonment and the right to protest.

Judge King will consider written submission from the boy’s lawyers and replies from prosecuting counsel Tony McGillicuddy BL. The case was adjourned until Friday to set dates for the resumption of the trial.

The hearing resumed for its third day on Wednesday when Judge John King was shown video footage of the protest. The clips were obtained from YouTube, RTÉ and a garda 4x4, which at one point had been blocked while carrying the former Minister for Social Protection and her advisor Ms O'Connell. Some people were seen chanting slogans, while others were hurling abuse at the former Tánaiste and jostling with gardaí.

The court also heard details of the teenager’s arrest in February last year, when he was detained at Tallaght Garda station to be questioned. His statement was read into the court’s record.

Garda Damian Reilly said the boy was questioned in the presence of his mother and he declined to have a solicitor present. He was told he was being questioned in connection with a false imprisonment charge and he said he understood.

CCTV footage and photos were shown to him and he identified himself. He admitted at some stages he had been holding a megaphone. It was put to him that he had appeared angry in footage, but he did not think so. He said the megaphone was not his, but he “was holding it for a lady who was telling people to stop launching stuff in the crowd”. He said people had been throwing eggs and other objects.

He identified himself in footage doing a “slow march”, but added that he did not engage in a sit-down protest. “I believe I was influenced by others to say sit down and then slow march out of the area,” he also told Garda Reilly. Asked who influenced him, he replied: “I cannot remember, it was last year.”

In the next question, he was asked if he was under duress to sit down and he replied: “No.” It was put to him that he could be seen instructing the crowd, but he denied being a leader or organiser of the demonstration. He said he found out about it online.

Garda Reilly asked him if he was sorry and he replied: “Yes.”

He was asked was that for particpating and he said: “Basically, yes.”

He was then asked if he was sorry for participating or for causing criminality and the teenager answered: “For participating, and the stress I am learning I placed the Tánaiste under.” He also said he was sorry for wasting his mother’s and garda time.

Garda Reilly agreed with the defence that the teen addressed the upset he caused to Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell. The court heard he had not prior criminal convictions or other charges pending and was getting good marks in school. He did not have any family problems and did not hang around with many people, he also told the garda.

The court also heard the teenage defendant may have said into the megaphone at one stage: “Joany in your ivory tower – this is called people power.”