TD Joan Collins has been cleared of breaking the Public Order Act during a water protest in Crumlin in Dublin last year.
In what had been dubbed the ‘Crumlin 11’ trial, the outgoing independent TD and nine co-defendants were acquitted by Judge Aeneas McCarthy at Dublin District Court.
They had pleaded not guilty to failing to comply with a garda’s direction to leave the vicinity of a protest. Two of the TD’s co-defendants also had charges for obstructing gardaí.
Councillor Patrick Dunne, aged 48, of St Gerard’s Rd, Greenhills, saw the charges against him dismissed on Tuesday.
In evidence, gardaí said they and GMC/Sierra workers, who had been trying to install water meters, were verbally abused with foul and disgraceful language and were threatened by water protesters at Parnell Rd, Crumlin, on the morning of April 20.
Judge McCarthy noted that the scene had been described as a commotion and noisy and that a Garda sergeant had not used a device to project his voice when he gave a direction to the protesters leave. He could not be sure the people there heard it, he ruled.
The court heard some defendants were not present when the caution was given and some arresting gardaí had a different understanding of the caution.
After the judge dismissed the charges, Ms Collins told reporters outside court: “I am really angry, this is not by accident that for three days during an election I have been pulled in here along with my colleagues in relation to the election.
“It should never have happened, I said that at the very beginning, what we were doing was legal that we had higher ground from the point of view of peaceful protesting.”
“In my case the guards said we were violent, that we were aggressive, that we were using extremely foul language, and that has been absolutely wiped out in that courtroom over the past few days. We were not aggressive. We were peaceful and we stood our ground.
“It was heavy-handed policing , I believe it was political policing,” said the Dublin South Central TD.
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