Jobstown trial a sledgehammer ‘to crack this particular nut’

False imprisonment charges should not have been brought, says Michael McDowell

The so-called ‘Jobstown six’ including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (centre) who were all cleared of all charges on Thursday.  Photograph: PA

The so-called ‘Jobstown six’ including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy (centre) who were all cleared of all charges on Thursday. Photograph: PA

 

The so-called ‘Jobstown Six’ should not have been charged with false imprisonment following the water charges protest in 2014, former minister for justice and attorney general Michael McDowell has said.

The six were on Thursday cleared of all charges linked to the alleged false imprisonment of Ms Burton and her then assistant Karen O’Connell, on November 15th, 2014, on the Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin. All six had pleaded not guilty.

The six included Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, Solidarity councillors Kieran Mahon, Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght and Michael Murphy, Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden; Scott Masterson, Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght; Frank Donaghy, of Alpine Rise, Belgard Heights, Tallaght; and Michael Banks, Brookview Green, Tallaght.

On Friday Mr McDowell said the trial had been a sledgehammer approach “to crack this particular nut”.

Mr McDowell told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the matter could have been dealt with in the District Court as a public order offence.

Mr McDowell further questioned the handling by gardaí of the protest. He said when he was minister for justice he would have expected the gardaí use their powers properly to ensure his departure from such a scene.

“There is no need for an inquiry,” he added. “The gardaí should have an internal examination about their approach to the incident.”

There was no political conspiracy to put Mr Murphy on trial, Mr McDowell said. “No politician has any input into how these things are done.”

Mr McDowell said Solidarity TDs Mick Barry and Paul Murphy were “going to milk the situation for all they’re worth”.

The incident in Jobstown, he said went beyond what would be perceived as reasonable protest or demonstration. “It was a breach of the peace”.

Mr McDowell also said he did not accept that the jury’s decision had legitimised the behaviour of the protestors.

Phone camera evidence could be edited to present any angle, he said and perhaps it was time for gardaí to be equipped with cameras so their actions could be monitored.