Latest: Jurors wouldn't have heard anything on social media that wasn't said in court, says Murphy

Update 3.26pm: Paul Murphy has defended his party's use of Twitter and Facebook during the Jobstown trial.

It comes after Fine Gael's Josepha Madigan said she had issues with some of the comments made online during the trial.

She is bringing a bill to the Dáil to try make it an offence to comment on social media while criminal cases are ongoing.

However, the Solidarity TD said they did nothing wrong.

Mr Murphy said: "The jurors were also directed not to pay attention to the media that's dealing with it, not to pay attention to social media, not to do any research and we trust that we have robust juries.

"The second thing is that if the jurors went online to look at what we were saying about the trial, they wouldn't have heard about anything that they didn't hear inside court."

Update 1.18pm: Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has said “it was a mistake” not to pursue public order offences rather than false imprisonment charges in the case of the Jobstown Six.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and five other men were all cleared this week of falsely imprisoning the former Labour Party leader Joan Burton during an anti-water-charge demonstration in 2014.

Speaking immediately after being cleared, Mr Murphy said files sent by the gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case were "rubbish".

Deputy Howlin says the party had no hand, act or part in the prosecution.

When asked asked if the DPP made a mistake with charging the men with false imprisonment, he said: “I can say now, honestly - yes.

“I deliberately said nothing - from the beginning to the end of this I stayed quiet on this, because I thought ‘let judicial process take its course’.

“But what happened was vile - the language used against two women.”

Earlier:

A Fine Gael TD is to table a bill to make contempt of court a statutory offence in the wake of the Jobstown trial.

At the moment, contempt of court is a common law offence in Ireland.

Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan - a qualified solicitor - believes our laws need to be updated to cover the increased use of social media.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, she said she believed that some comments made by Solidarity TDs during the Jobstown trial were "menacing".

On Thursday, jurors cleared TD Paul Murphy and five other men of the false imprisonment of former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her advisor during an anti water charge demonstration in Jobstown in 2014.

“Well, I found it very difficult during the Jobstown trial, and indeed I would say the same if it was any trial, the fact that there was a lot of activity on social media, on Facebook and on Twitter, about the trial itself,” said Ms Madigan.

“The media, the main media, are not allowed make comments like that during criminal trials, and I don’t think it should be allowed on social media either.”

Ms Madigan admitted we do not know if social media had an influence on the jurors, but she said we needed legislation to protect juries from outside influences.

The TD is now going to attempt and bring a Bill to the Dáil making it a statutory offence to comment on ongoing criminal cases.


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