Man joined water charges protest while getting petrol, trial told

Frank Donaghy tells court he joined ‘peaceful’ sit-down protest in Jobstown

Frank Donaghy told gardaí: “It was a sit-down protest. People have been doing it for years,” Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard. Photograph: Collins Courts

Frank Donaghy told gardaí: “It was a sit-down protest. People have been doing it for years,” Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A 71-year-old man charged with the false imprisonment of Joan Burton during a water charges protest in Jobstown, Tallaght, told gardaí he had joined the protest while in the area getting petrol.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Frank Donaghy told gardaí,­ who explained to him that the maximum sentence for the offence was life imprisonment: “That wouldn’t be long for me. How could protesting be false imprisonment?”

Mr Donaghy of Alpine Rise, Tallaght, Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men have denied falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, on November 15th, 2014.

The court heard Mr Donaghy told gardaí­ he was a member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance. He said he had been in the area getting petrol and had not known there was a protest going on. He said he had stopped, joined in “a peaceful protest” and been there for a few hours. He said that all he remembered was taking part in a sit-down protest and sitting down with others behind Ms Burton’s car until gardaí­ came and pulled them away.

“It was a sit-down protest. People have been doing it for years. I think it’s fairly legitimate,” he told gardaí.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.