Judge jails anti-lockdown protester for striking woman with wooden post

Lawyer for Michael Quinn (30) from Ardee offers apology to Ruth O’Rourke for assault

Ruth O’Rourke, AKA Izzy Kamikaze, is pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where Martin Quinn, an anti-lockdown protester, was jailed for striking her with a wooden post last year. Photograph: Collins Courts

Ruth O’Rourke, AKA Izzy Kamikaze, is pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where Martin Quinn, an anti-lockdown protester, was jailed for striking her with a wooden post last year. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A man who used a wooden post to strike a woman on the head during an anti-lockdown protest has been jailed for two years.

Judge Martin Nolan described the attack by Michael Quinn (30) on Ruth O’Rourke, AKA Izzy Kamikaze, as cowardly and said the behaviour of him and his associates after the attack was reprehensible.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, outlined to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court how Ms O’Rourke (58) had attended a rally in Dublin city centre in support of frontline workers in September of last year.

A “yellow vest” protest was taking place near the Custom House at the same time and some who attended it later made their way to Kildare Street, where another protest against Covid-19 restrictions was taking place by Leinster House.

Quinn, of Malone Flats, Market Street, Ardee, Co Louth, had previously entered a guilty plea to assault causing harm to Ms O’Rourke on Kildare Street on September 12th, 2020.

The court heard he had 48 previous convictions for offences including assault, violent disorder, affray, burglary and theft.

Reading her victim impact statement on Tuesday, Ms O’Rourke said that after being struck by the post she fell to the ground. She said her presence, and that of her friends, was then highlighted by a speaker from the platform, prompting hundreds of protesters to turn towards them.

“They swarmed towards us with the aim of driving us off the street.”

‘Baying’

She said some in the crowd were shouting “paedo scum off our streets” with the “air of a crazed mob”. She said she lay on the ground for 10 seconds listening to the protesters “baying” for her blood.

“Ten seconds is a long time to listen to that chanting. Ten seconds is a long time to listen to a mob baying for your blood, especially when you’re lying on the ground...I thought I was about to die or receive life-threatening injuries.”

She said that when she got back to her feet she stood for around five minutes “to exercise my right to stand in the street”. She said blood was running down her head and face as protesters shouted a tirade of abuse at her and her four friends, who included a teenager and two women in their 40s and 50s.

The abusive terms used included paedos, weirdos, dyke and shouting “you think you’re a man” and “how’s the head, missus” along with laughter, she said.

Ms O’Rourke said she was grateful that Quinn’s “cudgel” struck her head rather than that of a more vulnerable person and that Quinn had “hurt himself and his movement far more than he hurt me”.

‘Came to their senses’

Video footage of the assault and the crowd’s subsequent behaviour was published online and Ms O’Rourke said this meant “a lot of people came to their senses about how dangerous it is to ignore far right protests”.

She said the footage caused people to consider “the evil in the heart of people who would beat people off the street for their gender or ethnicity”.

Justin McQuaid BL, defending, told the court that his client had instructed him to offer a public apology to Ms O’Rourke. He asked the court to note a Probation Service report which stated that Quinn had displayed some “level of victim empathy” and was remorseful.

Judge Nolan said that everyone is entitled to demonstrate but that the injured party was perfectly entitled to be on a public street.

He said this was a serious assault, partly as a result of the motivations, and that Quinn had shown a propensity for violence in the past. He imposed a three year prison term with the final year suspended on certain conditions.