The high-profile Irish Water protester insisted he was not happy with the prospect of being charged in relation to the incident “as obviously I don’t want to go to prison”, despite admitting the row has been a major boost to the anti-water campaign.
Speaking in a wide-ranginginterview, the Dublin South West TD said he expects to be charged later this week and that the potential move against him and 22 others is now a “key reason” people are supporting the national protests.
He said it is also helping to create a more focussed left-wing movement in Ireland after decades of bickering, which the Socialist Party/Anti-Austerity Alliance is planning to take advantage of by agreeing a pre-election pact with People before Profit and a small number of Independent candidates to maximise ballot box success.
However, when it was put to him that the arrests and potential prison time are in his party’s political interests as they will help sweep him and others to Dáil seats, he insisted it was other “sections of society” who would benefit.
“I’m not really [happy]. I obviously don’t want to go to prison. I very strongly feel I did not falsely imprison anybody. Secondly, this is a major distraction that’s going to take up a significant amount of our time over the next year.
“We will try to use it to expose the defence of the State [of austerity measures], but it is also taking up an enormous amount of time.
“The tops of the Labour Party are happy about this. They were offended by the reaction Joan Burton got, they felt people should be punished.
“The second thing is it is likely senior figures within the gardaí in particular are offended by the rise of the protest movement, 57% of people not paying.
“For a certain type of law and order establishment figure, all of this is a significant threat to the establishment, and the fact [water meter instalment] injunctions were broken. So they would also like a message to be sent ‘it is this far and no further’.”
When asked to respond to the view the charges have practically guaranteed his re-election — following a left-wing path previously walked by party leader Joe Higgins during his 2003 bin charges jail sentencing — the TD, who only gained his Dáil seat after last year’s by-election, laughed and said: “Well, we’ll see. The thing is polarising, it really is. There’s a majority against austerity, but there’s a substantial number in favour of it or of being ‘responsible’ or whatever.
“Irish society is polarised on Jobstown. There is a constituency in favour of us being charged, but not my constituency.”
Mr Murphy — who stressed “we’ve never claimed what happened in Jobstown was the perfect protest” — also said all protests are legitimate in the current climate in Ireland up to the point of violence where he would “draw the line” and criticised the damage caused to two senators cars outside the Dáil this summer.
Meanwhile, Mr Murphy has predicted “tens of thousands” of people will turn up at this Saturday’s national Right2Water protests in Dublin spurred on by the reaction to Jobstown and a celebration of the fact the majority of people are refusing to pay their charges and the Government’s failure to help Irish Water pass strict Eurostat financial tests.
He said the Socialist Party/Anti-Austerity Alliance, People before Profit, and a small number of Independent candidates will also finalise a pre-election pact in the aftermath of this event, which will see them draw up an agreed policy platform and decide on whether to prevent multi-candidates in certain constituencies to ensure they do not split the vote.