TD Paul Murphy told an RTÉ news reporter that former Tánaiste Joan Burton was detained as part of a “peaceful protest”, his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
The Solidarity TD and six other men are accused of falsely imprisoning the former Tánaiste and her adviser Karen O’Connell during a anti-water charges protest in Jobstown, Tallaght in November 2014.
Mr Murphy (aged 34) along with South Dublin Councillors Michael Murphy (aged 53) and Kieran Mahon (aged 39) and four other men have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her advisor Karen O'Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.
On day 11 of the trial the jury continued to view video footage taken on the day, including footage taken by RTÉ and later obtained by gardaí as part of their investigation.
Twenty-plus minutes of RTÉ footage was shown to the jury in full and this included an interview with Mr Murphy after the protest.
Asked by a reporter if protests in which Ms Burton had her car blocked in for hours was peaceful, Mr Murphy repeatedly said that it was a peaceful protest.
“There was a peaceful protest that did detain her,” he said, adding that people had a right to be “very very angry” and that the protest on the day sent a message to her.
Mr Murphy said that the protest had been “largely spontaneous” when people had heard that Ms Burton would be in the Jobstown area.
He said that the protest ended peacefully with gardaí moving her from one car to another without any violence to her or gardaí.
He claimed that some gardaí had been aggressive and that they were responsible for violence on the day. He said he had heard that someone had been run over during the protest.
The TD said there had been an agreement made to slow march Ms Burton out of Tallaght, and that it had been a Garda decision to move her to a patrol car in order to leave the area.
The footage recorded the defendant speaking into a loud-hailer during the protest and asking protesters: “If they withdraw the public order unit we agree to let her go?”.
While the footage was being shown Garda Inspector Derek Maguire testified that the footage accurately reflected his memory of the protest.
He said that Paul Murphy said on a loud-hailer that the protestors were holding a democratic vote to decide “will we let her go or will we hold onto her for the night?”
The trial is set to continue on Monday before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.
Paul Murphy of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon of Holbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy (aged 71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Ken Purcell (aged 50) of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght; Michael Banks (aged 46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (aged 34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have denied the charges.