Protester wrestled by ambassador apologises to avoid criminal record

A protester who was wrestled by the Canadian Ambassador at a 1916 commemoration ceremony in Dublin has been given a chance to avoid a criminal record.

Photo: Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers (in the mac) tackles Brian Murphy who attempted to disrupt a state ceremony to remember the British soldiers who died in 1916. Pic: Colin Keegan, Collins

Brian Murphy publicly apologised yesterday in his bid to have his recorded conviction for a public order offence overturned. Judge James O’Donohue held he would be given the Probation Act if he donated €900 to charity and apologised to the garda who arrested him. Judge O’Donohue also suggested he write a letter of apology to Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers.

Youth club manager Murphy, aged 48, of Newcastle Manor, Newcastle, Co Dublin interrupted a televised 1916 commemoration service for members of the British army, at Grangegorman military cemetery on May 26 last year.

Murphy, whose great great grandfather had served in the British military and is buried in the cemetery, was an invited guest at the commemoration. His paternal grandfather had fought in Boland’s Mills in the 1916 Rising and was a republican who entered politics and later became a TD.

Mr Vickers, a former Canadian House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, who was appointed as the Canadian ambassador to Ireland in January 2015, was also present. Father-of-five Murphy was found guilty following a district court trial last year on a Public Order Act charge of engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour.

He had pleaded not guilty but was convicted and received a two-month sentence which was suspended for one year.

However, he launched an appeal in the circuit court which came before Judge O’Donohue who rejected defence arguments about right to protest or that the accused had not caused a breach of the peace.

Garda John Cahill told the appeal hearing he saw Brian Murphy stand up in the seated area and go into the courtyard. He unbuttoned his jacket and brandished a T-shirt saying “Justice for the Craigavon Two”, a reference to republican prisoners and a campaign that they have been wrongfully imprisoned.

The appeal heard he said “Free the Craigavon Two, this is an insult, this is an insult”. A speaker at the ceremony was momentarily interrupted.

The judge heard how Canadian ambassador Mr Vickers “wrestled and subdued Mr Murphy” before bringing him over to gardaí on duty at the event.

In evidence, Murphy told the court that he had applied to the Department of Foreign Affairs to go the event which he found “objectionable”.

Judge O’Donohue rejected the appeal.

The case was adjourned until January.

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