Today’s not guilty verdict in the eight week Jobstown protest trial has been warmly welcomed by many as a "victory for the right to protest"
Reacting to the verdict earlier today Paul Murphy, who was cleared of falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton during the Jobstown protest branded the evidence against him "rubbish".
Solidarity TD Murphy and five others were found by a jury not guilty of restricting the personal liberty of Joan Burton and her then assistant Karen O’Connell on November 15 2014, at Fortunestown Road in Jobstown, Dublin.
Speaking immediately after being cleared, Mr Murphy said files sent by the gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case were "rubbish".
"You saw Garda witness after Garda witness have their testimony shredded by our defence counsel," he said.
Mr Murphy added: "In the course of the next 24 hours we will have more to say about the implications of this trial for the political establishment and for the development of a left challenge as well as the role of the Gardaí in this process."
Mr Murphy, two Solidarity county councillors and three other men had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Former Labour leader Ms Burton was heckled by protesters opposed to households being charged for water as she left an event in Jobstown almost three years ago.
Along with Ms O’Connell, she was placed in a Garda car which was subsequently surrounded by protesters for a number of hours.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the not guilty verdict and suggested it is a victory for the right to protest.
“The right to protest is a democratic and hard won right. It cannot be brushed aside or diluted to suit a political agenda.
“This is good news for everybody who holds that right dear. I want to send my good wishes to the protesters and their families.”
Independent TD Joan Collins also suggested the verdict was a victory for the ability to peacefully protest.
"The role of the Gardaí again comes under scrutiny in this State given their actions in the policing on the day, investigation and trial," she said.
The Labour Party issued a statement saying it noted the verdict of the jury.
"The investigation of any criminal matter, and the conduct of any associated prosecution, is decided by An Garda Siochana and the law officers of the State who operate with complete independence from the political system," it said.
"As we have been all along, the Labour Party remains resolutely focused on our central tasks of holding the Government to account, and campaigning for decency, justice and equality in society."
Reacting to the verdict trade union Unite said they hoped that the verdict would signal the end to political policing.
Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said the right to protest, like the right to freedom of association, is fundamental to our democracy and crucial to the trade union movement.
“The rights of workers to engage in protest action during disputes with employers is also something which has to be constantly defended, and this verdict gives vindication to those rights.
“Today’s news is good news not just for the defendants who have had to endure this trial, but for all those who cherish our hard-won freedoms.
“It is clear that the motivation behind the charges faced by the Jobstown defendants was to demonise and de-legitimise water protesters.
“Fortunately, that attempt failed and today’s verdict must signal the end of political policing”, he concluded.