Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy said he — along with 26 other anti-water charge protesters facing trial — will have to convince a jury that it is “ludicrous” to equate what they did to Tánaiste Joan Burton in Tallaght last November with false imprisonment.
The Dublin South West TD rejected claims he was benefiting politically from the prosecution, saying he had “no interests in being a martyr”.
Mr Murphy, and the bulk of the other cases, are highly unlikely to be heard until next July and, quite possibly, not until October 2016, due to the waiting time for cases in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Mr Murphy received his summons yesterday to appear before the Dublin District Court on November 2 to be charged with false imprisonment — before his case is forwarded to the Circuit Court.
The juveniles are due to appear at the Children’s Court on October 29.
The charges stem from a water charge protest in Jobstown, west Tallaght, on November 15, during which Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell were kept in their car for more than two hours by demonstrators.
Mr Murphy’s summons, which he publicised yesterday, was sent to him by Tallaght district officer, Superintendent Peter Duff.
It said a complaint had been made to him that Mr Murphy, on November 15, at Fortunestown Rd, Jobstown, “falsely imprisoned” Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell, contrary to section 15 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act.
The summons goes on to “command” the deputy to appear at Court Number 3 in the Courts of Criminal Justice on November 2 at 2pm.
As reported in the Irish Examiner a month ago, the cases will take 9-10 months to be heard after they come before the Circuit Court. This suggests July would be the earliest they would be heard and that it may not be until October, after the summer recess, before they are in court.
Speaking on the Sean O’Rourke Show on RTÉ yesterday, Mr Murphy said that, while he was not surprised to receive the summons, given other people had the day before, the fact it was happening at all was “shocking”.
He said: “I mean the reaction I got from most people since people were arrested last February, or from the more recent leaks, most people will say to me ‘ah they won’t be that ridiculous, they won’t be that silly, there’s no way you’d face criminal trials’.
“There is a system and we’re going to go and try to convince a jury that the notion of sitting down behind a car and slow marching is false imprisonment is absolutely ludicrous and we think we should be able to do that.”
Mr Murphy said the fact the prosecutions were taking place was a “very serious matter” for everyone in terms of the “right to protest and basic democratic rights”. He rejected suggestions this was good for him politically: “I have no interests in being a martyr.”
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