Jobstown trial: Garda says TD and councillor were ‘clearly in control’

Richard Hansen says Paul Murphy and Michael Murphy could have opted to ‘walk away’

Paul Murphy (right) and six other men are charged with falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton during an anti-water charges protest three years ago. The other men (clockwise from top left) are: Scott Masterson, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks. Photographs: Collins

Paul Murphy (right) and six other men are charged with falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton during an anti-water charges protest three years ago. The other men (clockwise from top left) are: Scott Masterson, Michael Murphy, Kieran Mahon, Frank Donaghy, Ken Purcell and Michael Banks. Photographs: Collins

 

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and Solidarity councillor Michael Murphy were “clearly in control of the crowd” at the events in Jobstown in 2014, a Detective Garda has told the Dubin Circuit Criminal Court.

Det Garda Richard Hansen also said the two politicians were intelligent men who could have opted to “walk away” from what had by then become “almost a riot situation”.

Seoirse O’Dunlaing BL, for Michael Murphy, asked the witness about video footage which showed a vote being taken on what should happen next with the then tánaiste Joan Burton and her then adviser Karen O’Connell, who were inside a Garda Jeep which was surrounded by water charges protesters.

Paul Murphy asked for one speaker in favour of keeping the two women in the car, and one for continuing to “slow march” the car to a nearby bypass, which would take a further half an hour, and then letting it go.

Michael Murphy argued in favour of the latter option, but when a vote was taken the crowd overwhelmingly supported a woman who argued in favour of not letting the women go. Both Solidarity politicians voted in favour of councillor’s Murphy’s proposal, which received little support.

When Mr O’Dunlaing said the video showed that Michael Murphy was arguing in favour of letting the women go, Det Garda Hansen said it showed “clearly” that the two politicians were in control of the crowd and were giving it “options”.

It was no longer a protest at this stage, the witness said, and was almost a riot. The two politicians were intelligent men who could have opted to have “walked away”. People, including members of An Garda Síochana, were being assaulted and the two women were trapped in the Jeep, he said.

Seven men have pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent on November 15th, 2014, at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Co Dublin.

The defendants are: Paul Murphy, of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Solidarity councillor Kieran Mahon, Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy, Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden; Scott Masterson, a self-employed courier, of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght; Ken Purcell, a precision operative, of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght; Frank Donaghy, a retired construction worker, of Alpine Rise, Belgard Heights, Tallaght; and Michael Banks, of Brookview Green, Tallaght, whom the court was told does not have an occupation that brings him into contact with the public.

The witness told Seán Guerin SC, for Paul Murphy, that he overheard a snippet of conversation where Mr Murphy said to another man: “They have no more coming. We’ll stop it here.”

He said he took this to mean the gardaí had no more members coming to the scene and that the protesters would keep the Jeep where it was.

Mr Guerin queried how the witness could be so sure, and pointed out that the video footage showed that Mr Murphy, probably soon after the overheard snippet, voted in favour of “slow marching” the Jeep to the bypass so it could drive away. Did this not affect the “objective understanding” of the witness as to what the words heard might have meant?

Det Garda Hansen said he was satisfied with his evidence as to what he heard and what it meant.

The trial also heard that at one stage the witness tried to move Paul Murphy physically when he was blocking the movement of a Garda vehicle containing the two women. He said the attempt was a very brief one as the witness was “extremely conscious” that he was carrying a firearm.

For most of the protest, he said, he was a few metres back from where the crowd were gathered round the Jeep.

The trial, which began on April 26th, will resume on Monday with further evidence before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.