Water Charge Protest: More arrests on the way

Gardaí are expected to make up to 40 further arrests following the detention of three politicians and one activist over the suspected false imprisonment of Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser at a water charges protest three months ago.

Water Charge Protest: More arrests on the way

Meanwhile, water charge protesters blockaded Fingal councillors in the car park in Swords following last night’s monthly meeting.

Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness said he and colleagues were trapped in the car park for up to two hours and he was told by a “ringleader” that protesters wanted to see the abolition of Irish Water on the agenda for the council’s next meeting.

Protesters told staff at 9pm that they could leave but that councillors could not. Six garda vans arrived and the situation was resolved at 9.40pm, according to Mr McGuinness.

Officers behind the major garda investigation into the events at Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15, said they are planning public order and violent disorder arrests in the coming weeks.

The Irish Examiner understands the investigation will recommend charges when it submits a combined file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The first four arrests — of Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy, two councillors and one political activist — were made yesterday.

Senior garda sources rejected “political policing” claims and said they treat politicians “the same as anyone else”.

Following he and his colleagues’ release Paul Murphy said “let them charge us”, saying he was certain any jury would find them not guilty of false imprisonment. He described the garda actions as a “trumped up” bid to “criminalise” him and the anti-water charges campaign.

Mr Murphy, Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors for Tallaght Mick Murphy and Kieran Mahon and Scott Masterson, of socialist republican group Éirígí, were arrested between 6.15am and 7am over claims they falsely imprisoned Ms Bruton and her adviser, Karen O’Connell, in their car for over two hours.

A garda driver was also inside the vehicle.

Garda sources said the decision to arrest the politicians — as opposed to inviting them to take part in a voluntary interview — was made by local management and not garda headquarters.

Gardaí have identified three sets of offences — public order, violent disorder and false imprisonment — they believe have been committed.

It is understood arrests will continue over the coming fortnight and up to 40 people will be questioned.

A spokesperson for Tánaiste Joan Burton said yesterday’s arrests were “entirely” a garda matter.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the moves were the “guards doing their job”, while Environment Minister Alan Kelly suggested claims of “political policing” were just the Socialist Party of “being political in its own way”.

Speaking to reporters after being released without charge from Terenure garda station at 3.40pm, Mr Murphy said he is “not some sort of master criminal that deserves to have six gardaí at my door” and did not rule out making a formal complaint of garda harassment.

He claimed the arrests of him and his colleagues were “trumped up” with the investigation attempting to conclude he was personally in charge of the protest, which he denies, adding he did not answer garda questions.

Yesterday’s interviews were focused on media comments by Mr Murphy and others in the aftermath of the November 15 incident, and involved CCTV, RTÉ, and garda surveillance footage being shown.

Cllr Mick Murphy told RTÉ’s Liveline he was asked was he “familiar with the Constitution”, namely a person’s right to liberty.

He said he told them there was also a right to protest, saying the situation is “a war, in the political sense”.

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