Anti-Austerity TD Paul Murphy has been criticised by some opposition TDs for appearing to question the independence of the DPP.
Mr Murphy insists that he — and 19 others who are expected to be charged over their roles in an anti-water charge protest which saw Tánaiste Joan Burton trapped in her car for over two hours — are victims of “political policing”.
Pressed on whether he accepted that the role of the DPP was impartial, the Dublin South West deputy told RTÉ: “I accept that’s the role of the DPP and that’s the way she is supposed to conduct her job. I don’t know how it was conducted in this particular case.”
Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins condemned the comments, dismissing Mr Murphy’s claims gardaí were being politically controlled: “While I may question the value of prosecuting these individuals, that doesn’t really matter. I trust and expect the gardaí and the DPP to follow the evidence and objectively make decisions on the basis of that evidence.
“If they decide to proceed with a prosecution, it will then be dealt with by the courts. Public confidence in the independence of this process is the basis of our entire justice system. I think that Deputy Murphy needs to step back from his charges of political policing and the question mark he raised over the independence of the DPP.”
However, Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn rallied to Mr Murphy’s defence. He
said the possibility protesters could face prison terms was “highly disproportionate” and “deeply worrying”.
Ms Burton declined to comment on the matter as she believed it would be “inappropriate”.
Mr Murphy expressed bemusement that he was likely to be charged with the offence of false imprisonment.
“It is absolutely farcical, it stretches the definition of false imprisonment beyond breaking point to suggest that because the Tánaiste was delayed in Jobstown in her car for two-and-a-half hours that that’s false imprisonment. I mean there are multiple protests... around the time of the Jobstown protest there were farmers blockading meat processing plants, there have been no prosecutions there... that’s why we have said that the policing here is political.”
“Do I think this was political policing? Yes, absolutely. Ten days of arrests one after the other in the context of a movement that challenges the Government on water charges. That is not normal Garda procedure, and gardaí contacted me afterwards to say that that’s not normal procedure.”
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