Jobstown review will exclude Garda testimony – commissioner

Nóirín O’Sullivan says review will be from a ‘lessons learned’ perspective

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: “I am not going to second-guess here the conduct of the court.” Image: Oireachtas broadcasting

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan: “I am not going to second-guess here the conduct of the court.” Image: Oireachtas broadcasting

 

The conduct of Garda witnesses in the Jobstown trial will not form part of a review ordered after the acquittal of TD Paul Murphy and five other anti-water charges protesters, Garda Commissioner Nóirin O’Sullivan has said.

Instead, the inquiry into the handling of the 2014 protest is being reviewed by Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien “from a lessons-learned perspective”, the commissioner told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men were recently acquitted of falsely imprisoning then tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser in their car for several hours during the protest in Tallaght, Dublin.

Replying to Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin, Ms O’Sullivan was pressed on whether Mr O’Brien was examining allegations, made under Dáil privilege, that Garda witnesses in the court case had perjured themselves.

In the Dáil yesterday, during a confrontation with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Murphy said Garda witnesses had lied during the case and that their evidence had been contradicted by video evidence.

He believed the number of Garda witnesses that he alleged told lies in their evidence suggested an orchestrated and co-ordinated effort on the part of the Garda to deliberately mislead the court.

Declining directly to answer Ms McDonald’s question, Ms O’Sullivan later said the Garda had no power to examine court cases and that complaints about the case would need to be investigated by the Garda Ombudsman.

“[Assistant Commissioner] O’Brien is reviewing the entirety of the matter from a lessons-learned perspective,” Ms O’Sullivan said of Mr O’Brien’s review during very sharp exchanges with Ms McDonald.

‘Filibustering’

Complaining that the commissioner was “filibustering and that’s unacceptable”, Ms McDonald said: “It’s disrespectful to me and this committee to deliberately not answer the question.”

Speaking in general terms rather than about Jobstown, the commissioner said: “Obviously there are witnesses who appear before, for example, committees or courts. And different witnesses have different accounts of matters.

“Some people have a direct evidence account of matters and some people have hearsay accounts of matters. It is important that the court or committee hears all of the evidence in a fair and balanced way.

“And I am not going to second-guess here the conduct of the court. What I am saying is, from the Garda Síochána perspective, and bringing it back into the Jobstown issue; we in the Garda are always taught . . . different witnesses will have different accounts.

“And that doesn’t mean one witness is right and one witness is wrong. So that’s why we are always taught to hear things in a fair and balanced manner.”