Hanafin heckler given €150 fine


A demonstrator who blocked former Government minister Mary Hanafin’s car and shouted “Democracy now”, during a protest against the EU-IMF bailout, has been fined €150.

Raymond Walker (42), originally from Derry but resides at Sherrard Street Lower, in Dublin, had been arrested on Merrion Street, outside Government buildings, on November 21st last, when he stood in front of a car carrying the then minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport.

He was charged under the Public Order Act with obstructing Garda Jennifer Keyes, interfering with the passage of a vehicle and engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

He pleaded not guilty at a trial at Dublin District Court today.

In evidence, Walker said he approached a woman at Merrion Street “to thank her” because she was protesting at the gates of Government buildings.

He told his solicitor Mr Patrick McGonagle that the car carrying Hanafin stopped and was surrounded by members of the media.

“There was a lot of people around the car, it took up most of the pavement, some pedestrians tried to go on the road. I was going to walk around between the gates and the car,” he said.

“I put my hands in the air and shouted as loudly as I could ‘Democracy Now’,” he said.

Ms Hanafin smiled to him at first “but did not speak”, Walker claimed.

About one-and-a-half minutes later he moved on when Garda Keyes spoke to him.

He said the former minister’s car was stationary when he stepped in front of it and he did not believe he had caused an obstruction as there were members of the media standing behind him.

Judge Brendan Toale said the video evidence played in court showed Walker was the only person in front of the car and convicted him for interfering with the free passage of the vehicle.

He noted that Walker had no prior criminal convictions and had lost his job last year.

Judge Toale fined Walker €150 which must be paid within one month otherwise he will be jailed for five days.

The charges for breach of the peace and obstructing the garda were dismissed.