More arrests expected over heated anti-water charges protest

Gardaí are expected to arrest several more people over the next three weeks in relation to a heated anti-water charges protest in Dublin last November.

More arrests expected over heated anti-water charges protest

It comes as Socialist Party TDs, including Paul Murphy — one of four people arrested on Monday — are set for a showdown tomorrow in the Dáil with the Tánaiste, Joan Burton, over the arrests.

Mr Murphy told the Irish Examiner yesterday that he, party leader Joe Higgins and fellow TD Ruth Coppinger will bring up the events when Ms Burton takes Leader’s Questions.

Four people — including a 16-year-old boy — were detained yesterday, bringing to eight the number of arrests so far.

All eight have been arrested on suspicion of the false imprisonment of the Tánaiste and her special adviser on November 15 at Jobstown, west Tallaght.

The two women, and a Garda driver, were trapped in their car for more than two hours as they were surrounded by anti-water charges protesters.

It is understood gardaí plan to arrest up to 40 people this week, next week and the following week, for offences including public order, violent disorder, false imprisonment, criminal damage, and assault.

The assault charges relate to the water-bombing of gardaí and Ms Burton, who was hit in the side of her face on that day.

In addition to the juvenile, gardaí yesterday arrested two men and a woman, aged in their 20s and 30s. The woman and one of the men are related. The juvenile was released before noon and the others were released between 1.30pm and 2pm. Further arrests are expected this morning.

It is understood gardaí are still in the process of trying to identify a number of people and it is possible they could be added to the list of arrests in a couple of weeks.

Once all the arrests have taken place and all suspects’ statements analysed, the investigation team will then prepare a combined file for the DPP.

It is understood gardaí will press for charges in certain cases and will recommend adult cautions or the juvenile diversion programme in other situations.

Paul Murphy yesterday claimed that 10 people were involved in the arrest of the 16-year-old — an accusation rejected by gardaí, who said six gardaí were involved, with two staying in their car.

Responding to claims of “political policing”, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the gardaí act “independently” of Government.

A spokesman for Ms Burton said the issue was “entirely” a Garda matter.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said it was just the “guards doing their job”.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly alleged claims the Government was behind what happened as the Socialist Party being “political”.

However, the opposition group insisted that the arrests were “political policing”.

Monday’s incident led to a number of pop-up protests by anti-water charges activists. They included a candle-lit protest outside Coolock Garda Station at 7pm on Monday night and an impromptu picket of Fingal County Council’s monthly meeting in Swords, Co Dublin.

While Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness said he was blocked from leaving in his car for an hour and a half, other councillors said they had no issue with the picket.

More in this section