Garda inquiry into leaking of Jobstown protest charges

Joan Burton will appear as witness in court if she is called, says Labour spokesman

Paul Murphy: “It’s seriously bad practice for the information that we are due to charged to be leaked to the media before anyone due to be changed is informed.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Paul Murphy: “It’s seriously bad practice for the information that we are due to charged to be leaked to the media before anyone due to be changed is informed.” Photograph: The Irish Times

 

An internal Garda investigation is under way into how information indicating people would be charged over a protest in Dublin appeared in the media.

Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy has written to the Garda Commissioner complaining about the “leaking” that suggests he could be one of about 20 people charged over the incident in Jobstown last November in which Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car.

They are expected to be charged with a variety of offences, including false imprisonment, criminal damage and public order, following a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Mr Murphy said he had also written to the DPP and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

“It’s seriously bad practice for the information that we are due to charged to be leaked to the media before anyone due to be charged is informed,” he said. “As a consequence, you have a lot of people in Jobstown worried that they might be facing charges.

General election “This is going to be a major political trial, potentially in advance of the general election but possibly afterwards. I think it’ll backfire on the Government and Labour in particular.”

Asked for a comment on the matter, a Garda spokesman said: “An investigation into how this information appeared in the media was launched this morning.”

Ms Burton declined to comment on the development. “The gardaí and the DPP are independent in their functions, and it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing proceedings,” a Labour spokesman said. Asked if Ms Burton would appear as a witness in any Circuit Court proceedings, he said: “If she’s called, she’ll go.”

Ms Burton and a political aide were trapped in their car for a number of hours on November 15th when protesters surrounded the vehicle and staged a sit-down protest as the Tánaiste tried to leave a graduation ceremony at An Cosán College in Jobstown.

She was hit on the head by a water balloon. Other objects, including bricks, were thrown at gardaí and their vehicles.

A press conference is due to be held close to the scene of the protest at 11am today.

‘Political policing’ One of the organisers, Frank Donaghy, a member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, said he expected to be charged in relation to the events of last November.

“I think I will be. I was arrested the last time anyway. Probably they will charge me. It’s political policing,” he said.

Mr Donaghy said the news that protesters would be charged broke on Wednesday night. “That was the first I heard of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the Jobstown protest had been peaceful in the main, but it “became unreasonable”. “Sinn Féin would believe it was wrong and over the top of protesters to have detained the Tánaiste for two hours on that occasion.”

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins said he trusted and expected the gardaí and DPP would “ follow the evidence and objectively make decisions on the basis of that evidence”.