Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghail has sought legal advice on whether Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy’s claims three Jobstown trial gardaí committed “perjury” and “lied under oath” broke strict Dáil privilege rules.
Oireachtas officials confirmed the move last night, saying that after reviewing the Dáil transcript of the debate he has contacted the Oireachtas parliamentary legal adviser to decide whether sanctions may be required.
The legal review was prompted after Mr Murphy made the claim during a heated session of leaders’ questions, in which he was told “you’re not a victim” in the case and faced claims he threatened Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after warning him “you’re going to regret” ignoring the call for a public inquiry.
Hours after Labour TD Joan Burton broke her silence to say she is awaiting “greater clarity” from the DPP over the trial, Mr Murphy said he believed gardaí were involved in a “conspiracy” to mislead jurors.
Stressing it had been proven he did not say “will we keep her [Joan Burton] here for the night” during the protest, Mr Murphy said it was impossible to believe three gardaí swore under oath that the comments were made when “it didn’t happen”.
Mr Murphy said under Dáil privilege that he was convinced “numerous gardaí lied under oath” and had “an agreement to commit perjury”.
To a furious reaction from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Labour TDs, he added “it may pain you, or some of you, the jury looked at the evidence and found us innocent.”
Mr Varadkar responded to Mr Murphy’s claims and the demand for a public inquiry into an alleged Garda conspiracy, saying “you’re not a victim here” and that “you had a fair trial”.
He said while Mr Murphy was found innocent, “that doesn’t mean your actions were right”. He also accused the TD of “thuggery” and insisted he and others should “offer a public apology” to Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell.
“It may well be the case that you were not involved in kidnapping, but it was thuggery and your behaviour was wrong. The protest was ugly, it was violent, it was nasty,” said Mr Varadkar.
Noting Mr Varadkar did not address the call for a public inquiry or the perjury claims, Mr Murphy said while he may not be a victim, he pointed to the 15-year-old convicted of offences relating to the protest and others “who lost their jobs”.
As Mr Varadkar began to respond saying there is no conspiracy, Mr Murphy shouted across the chamber: “You’re going to regret that.” A shocked Mr Varadkar paused, then said: “That’s quite threatening actually. That’s quite threatening. You should give an apology to the people you held.”
Mr Murphy’s perjury claims are now being examined by Oireachtas officials over whether they breached Dáil standing orders amid claims from Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin that they risk “opening up all sorts of new horizons” on what can be said in the Dáil.
The controversial Dáil scenes came just hours after Labour TD Joan Burton thanked gardaí for ensuring nobody was injured during the protest and said she would like clarity from the DPP on why it sought certain charges as opposed to others.
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