By Tom Tuite
Dublin’s Deputy Lord Mayor Cieran Perry appeared in court today and could face jail on public order charges arising out of his arrest at a protest in support of striking workers.
The independent Councillor claims his trial is a result of what he termed “political policing”.
Cllr Perry, a Unite shop steward, was arrested during an industrial relations protest against wage cuts imposed on workers at Dublin waste firm Greyhound, and the company's use of temporary staff while employees were on strike.
The 53-year-old, who represents the Cabra Finglas ward, is accused of failing to comply with a garda's direction to leave the vicinity and interrupting the passage of vehicles, at Killala Road, in Cabra, in Dublin, on September 2 last year. The offences can result in fines and a possible six-month jail term.
He appeared at Dublin District Court today to answer a summons served by gardaí in July – a delay which he claims has prejudiced his ability to meet the case.
The proceedings were adjourned until December when he will be expected to enter a plea and possibly have a later trial date set.
He was joined at the courthouse by dozens of supporters and when his case was called he greeted Judge Patrick Clyne who invited him into the witness box.
Once seated, he explained to the judge that he intended to defend himself and would use what is known as a “McKenzie's Friend” where he can have assistance of another person during the proceedings.
He then said he wanted to make two applications, the first asking for the date to be set for a “special hearing” to allow him have witnesses ready.
“No, problem,” Judge Clyne responded, at which the deputy mayor said he wanted to: “highlight delay, I believe it has prejudiced my ability to defend myself”.
He then asked the judge to consider using his discretion to strike out the case as a result of his defence being prejudiced by delay. The judge refused but told the Cllr Perry, “that does not stop you arguing it on the day”.
Perry, who has an address at Cabra Drive, confirmed he was seeking disclosure of the prosecution evidence including CCTV footage. Garda Sinead Tyrell said that could be sent to the deputy mayor's home.
Judge Clyne explained that he would not set a trial date yet and the case would be listed again in December for mention only to allow the councillor a chance to absorb the evidence once it has been furnished.
“I will normally not give a hearing date until you know what you are going to do, that is why I give it a mention date first,” he told Cllr Perry.
The deputy mayor will be expected to formally enter a plea to the charges at his next court appearance.
Cllr Perry, who intends to run for the Dáil in the general election next year, left court and was cheered and clapped by supporters outside.
He thanked them for coming and said he had been very nervous about facing court before telling them he intended to fight the charge which he claimed stemmed from “political policing”.