Woman charged with assaulting garda during water protest

Three people arrested during Dublin water protest appeared at court

Stephen and Saoirse Bennett who both appeared in Dublin District Court. Photograph: Collins

Stephen and Saoirse Bennett who both appeared in Dublin District Court. Photograph: Collins


A pregnant woman has been charged with assaulting a garda during Wednesday’s water charge protest in Dublin.

Gardaí made six arrests during the largely peaceful protest in which tens of thousands of people marched from the Garden of Remembrance to Government buildings.

Three were released without charge and three were brought before Dublin District Court.

A sit-down protest involving some of the demonstrators took place at the south-side of O’Connell Bridge led to arrests, Judge Michael Walsh heard.

Saoirse Bennett was arrested and was held overnight at Irishtown Garda station.

The 21-year-old woman, who has an address at Pearse Green, Sallynoggin, Dublin, is charged with assaulting a Garda sergeant, obstructing her in the course of her duty and damaging the jacket of her uniform.

The offences are alleged to have occurred at D’Olier Street. She is also accused of failing to comply with a garda direction to leave the vicinity, breach of the peace and damaging a second garda’s uniform.

Gardaí objected to bail. However, the judge refused to remand the young woman in custody. Following arguments from defence solicitor Stephen O’Mahony, he also refused to impose conditions of bail sought by gardaí which were a ban from the Dublin 2 area and a curfew.

Gardaí objected to bail being granted to her father, Stephen Bennett (43), also of Pearse Green, Sallynoggin, who was charged with failing to leave the vicinity of Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, and preventing the passage of a garda van.

Gda Anthony Brazil said Mr Bennett was in a “break-away” group and was, “arrested, protesting on the street, having been asked to desist in his behaviour”.

He said Mr Bennett was cautioned twice and continued sitting on the street blocking traffic.

Additional traffic diversions had to be set up as a result, Gda Brazil said.

In reply to charge, Mr Bennett said: “It is the sign of morally and corrupt gardaí pulling charges out of their arse to manufacture breaches of bail.”

Judge Walsh remarked, “peaceful protests have always been part of our history” and granting bail, he said Mr Bennett is not a flight risk. The father and daughter were ordered appear again on January 8th.

Barry O’Sullivan (36), from Sli an Chanail, Leixlip, Co Kildare, was charged with not obeying a garda direction under the Public Order Act to leave the Burgh Quay area, and preventing the passage of a vehicle.

There was no bail objection in the case of Mr O’Sullivan who was ordered to appear again on January 29th.

Judge Walsh ordered gardaí to hand over any video evidence to the defence.