McGrath says false imprisonment charges ‘went too far’

Minister of State is concerned cost of case and early morning raids by ‘arms of the State’

A Minister has expressed concern at the bringing of false imprisonment charges against the so-called 'Jobstown six' and said these charges "went too far".

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath also said on Saturday he welcomed the unanimous not guilty verdicts handed to each of the six accused and said this was the "correct verdict".

“I didn’t buy the original debate around the false imprisonment argument” Mr McGrath said.

The Government has ruled out a public inquiry in the Jobstown prosecutions, demanded yesterday by Solidarity TDs, including Paul Murphy.


Solidarity TDs made the call for an inquiry, alleging a Garda “stitch-up” had led to the prosecutions being brought against Mr Murphy and other party activists.

Senior legal sources have said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was unable to charge Mr Murphy and the other Jobstown protesters with more minor offences because the Garda investigation was not completed within the six-month statute of limitations.

Mr McGrath also said he had concerns about cost of the trial, and the way "sections of the arms of the State were used in relation to early morning visits, raids" he told the RTÉ Radio's Claire Byrne Show.

The Independent Alliance Minister of State said he felt the language and abuse used at the protest in Jobstown was totally unacceptable and “should not be accepted in any peaceful democratic society”

Mr McGrath said he felt the issue of other protestors shouting abuse or throwing eggs could have been dealt with under the Public Order Act.

“I think those kind of issues; separate to the people involved [in the case], the TDs like Paul Murphy; could have been dealt with under Section 6 of the Public Order Act” he said.

The Public Order Act has provisions for people engaging in abusive, aggressive or insulting behaviour, he said.

“Issues on the fringes of the march could have been dealt with under the Public Order Act, not doing what happened, that’s my personal view”.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said the incidents of items being thrown or abuse shouted at Ms Burton during the protest had nothing to do with the trial or the not guilty verdict.

“It was the act of false imprisonment. That was what the trial was about rather than the language that was used” she said.

Speaking on the not guilty verdicts she said: “The idea that these people could be charged with false imprisonment, that could yield a sentence of up to 20 years, has been thrown out of court by a jury”.

Ms Smith said she did not support items being thrown at former Labour Party leader and tánaiste Joan Burton, or abuse shouted at her by some members involved in the protest.

“I wouldn’t use that language. I don’t believe any of the accused used that language, or threw items, and I don’t think that was ever the case against them”.

Ms Smith said the anger of the protest had to be taken in the context of austerity and the impact the recession had on the Jobstown community.

She said it should have come as no surprise that Ms Burton would receive a hostile reception in one of the poorest parts of Ireland “after the level of austerity and cuts that were imposed on that community”.

“To be surprised that she wouldn’t receive a good reception is native in the extreme. People were angry, it was at the height of the level of austerity, that doesn’t excuse the language, but put in into a context,” Ms Smith said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times