Gardaí whose evidence was contradicted by video footage should potentially face perjury charges: TD

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Gardaí who gave evidence in the high-profile Jobstown trial which was contradicted by video footage of the incident should potentially face perjury charges, it has been claimed.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy made the claim today, saying "everyone should be held equal before the law and that includes the Gardaí".

Asked about the decision to find Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy and five other defendants not guilty of false imprisonment against then Tánaiste Joan Burton and her assistant Karen O'Connell, Ms Murphy said in her view the charges were "misjudged".

Ms Murphy dismissed Solidarity-People Before Profit calls for an inquiry into Gardaí whose evidence against the defendants was contradicted by video footage.

And also went on to suggest Fine Gael's suggestions that new laws are needed to ensure social media comments do not pressurise jurors are unnecessary.

However, asked about the actions of the individual Gardaí who gave evidence during the trial, Ms Murphy said further action may be required to uncover what happened.

She said if anyone provides detailed evidence to a court which is contradicted they may face perjury charges, and that this potential move should be examined in terms of officers linked to the Jobstown case.

"We're always looking at inquiries and tribunals and things like that, but if you go into a court and tell lies, it's called perjury. And essentially the justice system is required to capture that and it shouldn't differentiate between who goes into the court and doesn't tell the truth.

"Essentially I believe there is a real issue here where several people said the same thing and it could be proved that it wasn't said.

"Now I think there is a very significant issue there, and there is an issue in relation to public confidence and how our justice system works.

"I would think that anyone who goes into court including the gardai where it can be proven that they went in and didn't tell the truth or it was contradicted by the evidence, absolutely [there should be a potential perjury case]. Everyone should be held equal before the law, and that includes the gardai.

"We're supposed to be held equal in front of the law. And essentially there is no reason why that should be any different in this particular case," she said.

The Gardaí have always insisted their evidence is an accurate version of what they saw happen at the protest.

Asked about what action, if any, should be taken against them earlier today, Labour senator Kevin Humphreys said the real issue is the abuse his party colleague Ms Burton faced at the protest and the need for Gardaí to be given body cameras to ensure clear evidence of incidents is available.

"If anyone looked at the coverage it wouldn't exactly encourage more women to go into politics both by the language and the treatment Joan and her assistant received in Jobstown. It was a very sad way they were treated, and very wrong.

"I think there is a very strong argument and I've said this for a long time, that there is a need for body cameras for gardai to bring clarity in instances like this.

"You know, in instances like this emotions are running very strongly and you're depending on memory when you're giving evidence, but I think the body cameras in those instances would very clearly define what happened.

"The Gardaí and the minister for justice needs to look at investing in that area to ensure there is clear transparency in relation to court cases in the future," he said.

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