DPP officials are ‘concerned’ by Varadkar’s Jobstown comments

Prosecutors are worried about legal implications of Taoiseach’s call for Garda review

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) officials are extremely concerned by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's comments that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan should examine Garda evidence given in the Jobstown trial.

The State’s prosecution team intends to review the evidence against the remaining 11 accused, who have still to stand trial for alleged offences at the anti-water charges protest in November 2014.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and the five other men who were acquitted last week of false imprisonment charges have called for a full public inquiry into the evidence given by the gardaí.

Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s Prime Time that people “need to trust what the gardaí say” on the witness stand, although he added that recollections can become confused when “people are caught up in the heat of the moment”.

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“But I would be very concerned if it’s the case that we would ever have gardaí on a stand in the courts giving evidence that is not in line with the facts; that is not in line with, for example, the video evidence.”

Case for the defence

Officials in the DPP's office believe that the Taoiseach's comments, which were condemned by Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, will make the prosecution of the remaining accused more difficult.

They see it as inevitable that defence barristers will use Mr Varadkar's comments to the RTÉ programme to discredit Garda testimony during cross-examination.

During the Jobstown trial, Judge Melanie Greally rejected arguments made by the defence that the Garda investigation was so badly handled that it should be stopped.

The Taoiseach’s intervention could be helpful to the defence if there are future conflicts between video and Garda evidence, but it would not on its own “swing the pendulum” to bring an end to a trial, said one legal quarter.

Meanwhile, there is also concern in the DPP's office regarding the timing of a Garda Síochána statement issued after the Taoiseach's interview, which announced that an internal review was under way.

Despite the upcoming DPP review, the remaining two trials are likely to proceed. Nine people face false imprisonment charges, although some face charges of violent disorder and criminal damage.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent