Truck driver was ‘exercising his right to protest’

BROKE builder Joe McNamara told a Dublin court he was “exercising his constitutional right to protest” when he parked a 15-tonne cement truck at the gates of Leinster House on Wednesday.

Mr McNamara was brought before Dublin District Court yesterday morning accused of criminal damage due to his cement mixer having scraped the paint off a small section of Leinster House’s large electric gates.

Mr McNamara’s solicitor, Cahir O’Higgins, told Judge Patrick McMahon his client had been “merely exercising his constitutional right to express an opinion”.

Mr O’Higgins said his client had been exercising section 40.6.1 of the Constitution, which guarantees the liberty of people to express freely convictions and opinions.

He added; “I make the point that my client asserts his innocence in respect of this matter,” referring to the charge of criminal damage.

Garda Sgt John Egan asked Judge Patrick McMahon to order that Mr McNamara stay away from Anglo Irish Bank headquarters in St Stephen’s Green.

The judge said it was not his role to make such an order and refused to make it a condition of bail.

At the request of Mr O’Higgins the judge also stated that Mr McNamara was not to come to the “unlawful attention” of the gardaí rather than merely their “unfavourable attention”.

Mr McNamara was released on his own bond of €200 and is due before the court on November 25.

During the short hearing it was stated that the 41-year-old, originally from Achill Island but now with an address at Dun na Carraige in Salthill, Galway, is heavily indebted to the banks. It is understood Mr McNamara owes Anglo Irish €3.5 million after the bank encouraged him to diversify into property development.

Outside the court, Mr O’Higgins read a short statement: “Joe wished to make a legitimate protest at what he believes to be his unfair treatment at the hands of the banks.” He added Mr McNamara did not intend to make any further comment until the criminal case is finished.

At about 7am on Tuesday Mr McNamara obstructed the gates of Leinster house with his truck that carried the slogans “Toxic Bank Anglo”, “€1,000,000 on golf balls” and “€500k for golf” were displayed on the side and its registration plate showed the word “bankrupt”.

Outside the court, Brian Matthews, 38, from Dublin said he was protesting against the injustice of Mr McNamara’s treatment by the gardaí that had seen him detained for over 24 hours “when not one banker or politician has yet been brought to justice for their part in the economic destruction of the country”.


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