The body representing members of An Garda Síochána has refused to offer an explanation as to how Garda testimony during the Jobstown trial was at odds with the video evidence offered to the court.
However, the Garda Representative Association said the Jobstown case showed the need to provide gardaí with wearable body cameras to collect evidence from protests and other incidents.
John O’Keeffe of the GRA said he would not comment on the particulars of one specific case, but dismissed claims that the gardaí’s actions were a politically motivated “stitch-up”.
“Frontline gardaí are non-political, that’s our bottom line,” Mr O’Keeffe told the Today with Sean O’Rourke show on RTÉ.
“What gardaí on the frontline care about is doing their job to the best of their ability with the resources and supervision they are given at any one time.
“From time to time, it obviously suits certain political agendas of all persuasions to cast frontline gardaí as the State’s bullyboys, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“The idea that somehow, in this particular case, the gardaí might have been hell bent on prosecuting certain individuals, I think is a nonsense.
“This is a political football and yet again the GRA are brought into this, and gardaí on the frontline are brought into the generic political football that are the current garda crises,” he said.
However, Mr O’Keeffe would not comment on inconsistencies between garda accounts about what happened on the day of the protests and the video evidence.
“You can’t expect me to comment on the operational issues on that particular day,” he said.
“This has reached a political zenith, where everybody is talking about it, but there are public order incidents every day of the week that never get into the press but maybe equally important for families and communities, but we never hear about them.”
He also declined to offer an opinion on the gardaí’s handling of the incident on the day of the protest saying: “We will not question operational tactics by supervisory gardaí on the day.”
“That’s very local and it’s very confined to that particular moment. What we do say is that operations such as the one in Jobstown would have benefitted hugely, both for the protestors and for the gardaí on duty on the day, if they had body cameras.
“It is a vital tool in ensuring that assaults, for example, are properly recorded, but something that holds everyone accountable and gives the best evidence available, instead of helicopter evidence and maybe in place of oral testimony even.
“We know it works globally, in domestic violence cases, to prove evidence collection at accident scenes and so on.
“If they were assigned body cameras, the evidence is in the body cameras. I make no comment about the evidence that was given yet again on those days in court. That’s up to those particular police officers who swore under oath.
“We would have first-hand video evidence of what happened on the day, and let justice be done. Justice for the protestors, and justice for An Garda Síochána.”
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