Taoiseach says ‘ugly’ Jobstown protests like Lord of the Flies

Leo Varadkar also defended comments he made about Garda evidence in trial

Leo Varadkar reiterated in the Dáil that he did not condone the actions of the protesters in Jobstown. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended his comments about the Jobstown trial when he referred to Garda evidence not being in line with video evidence and suggested that the Garda Commissioner should review the matter.

Six men were acquitted of the false imprisonment in 2014 of former tánaiste Joan Burton and her special adviser Karen O’Connell who were detained in a car surrounded by protesters during anti-water protests in Jobstown in west Dublin.

Mr Varadkar reiterated in the Dáil that he did not condone the actions of the protesters in Jobstown. He said that while there were no convictions “the scenes there were ugly, they were violent”.

“I was particularly struck by the moment when there was a vote taken on whether the two women should be detained or not all night.”


He said "that to me was more like a scene from Lord of the Flies than a scene from any peaceful protest" in reference to the William Golding novel about shipwrecked boys who attempt to govern themselves on an uninhabited island with disastrous consequences.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said commentary should be avoided “when court cases are concluded and other court cases on the same incident are about to take place”.

‘World of difference’

However, the Taoiseach said “there’s a world of difference between commenting on a trial that is over and one that is under way”.

He said that as head of Government he had a legitimate concern about any failed prosecution whether the Jobstown case or that of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, given the costs involved, the number of people involved and the time given by jurors.

He said there should always be a review of a trial when the prosecution fails.

He also insisted that he was “a big supporter” of An Garda, pointing to plans to increase force numbers to 13,500 along with an average salary of €70,000.

“It is precisely because I support the Garda that I expect the highest standards. This means statistics, whether on breath tests or domestic violence, should be accurate, accounts should be managed properly, public moneys should be used only for the purposes for which they are intended and prosecutions should be taken to the highest standard.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett welcomed Mr Varadkar's comments and said an investigation into the contradiction between the comments of senior gardaí and the video evidence should not be investigated by gardaí but by independent people "who will look at the evidence objectively".

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Taoiseach had raised legitimate concerns in a forthright way.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times