MICHAEL CLIFFORD: Paul Murphy Raid: Were the dawn swoops really necessary?

The most disconcerting fact to emerge from yesterday’s dawn raid on the house of a TD is that Paul Murphy wears pyjamas.

At least, that’s how the cops found him when six of them barrelled through his front door at 7am. Murphy has cast himself as a defender of human rights, elected to break the law in a state that, to his mind, is governed with a bogus mandate. How then can he wear pyjamas at night? You wouldn’t have found Mick Collins togged out in jimjams when a nocturnal visit from the state was a constant danger. Martin Luther King might have donned night-time apparel during lulls, but surely not when a campaign was in full flow. Yet here was this representative of the people, hauled from his beddy bye-byes, kitted out in pyjamas.

Worse again, he was still in the jimjams at 7am. What time does this fella get out of bed? We are told all of our TDs work round the clock, yet here was Mr Murphy having a lie-in of a Monday morning, and the week ahead waiting to be attacked.

Beyond that, yesterday’s operation descended from the supine to the ridiculous. Four men were arrested under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act for questioning in relation to the detaining of Joan Burton in her car for two hours last November.

Three of the four are elected politicians. Were the dawn swoops necessary?

Paul Murphy leaving Terenure Garda Station with councillors Kieran

Murphy, left, and Mick Murphy, right, who were also arrested.

All involved knew a criminal investigation was afoot and that they were likely to be helping with inquiries at some stage.

In recent years, we have had examples of well-heeled shysters making arrangements to attend for arrest by appointment. Why was such a facility denied elected public representatives, particularly ones more likely to embrace rather than flee arrest?

Six officers were deployed to bring in the suspect. Paul Murphy is a little guy. Well bred, polite, an amiable sort of chap. Maybe Mr Murphy has a dark side, which would render him uncontrollably violent when he is angry. Maybe a snitch in the Anti Austerity Alliance told the cops Murphy transmogrified into the Incredible Hulk if things turned sour.

Otherwise, it’s difficult to see why it was necessary to deploy six cops. Surely they must have known that Murphy’s most likely reaction would be to hug them for presenting him with the prospect of arrest.

For Murphy’s kindred spirits who remain on the outside, the arrests were manna. Ruth Coppinger was on with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, citing the civil rights movement in the USA. She was serious.

Over on Newstalk, Pat Kenny was getting the views of other leading lights of the Anti Austerity Alliance. First there was Michael O’Brien, then TD Joan Collins. Some political movements have to pay major bucks for that amount of advertising.

Supporters of the four men arrested keep a vigil outside Tallaght

Garda Station yesterday. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Richard Boyd Barrett brought a more sombre tone to proceedings, in which he referenced “political policing” a number of times. However, the allegation that what happened yesterday was political policing is outrageous. It infers that those pulling the strings in government are moronic. They couldn’t be that stupid. The only political capital generated yesterday was for the AAA, who, fair play to them, made serious hay.

Next up, Kenny had Murphy’s partner on for a first-hand account of the dawn raid. Mokhtareizadh Farrah said the officers gruffly told Murphy to come along quietly. The sole redeeming feature of the whole show was that they allowed him to put his clothes on before taking him away.

On it went, all through the day. By lunchtime, Joe Higgins declared Murphy had been “taken from his bed” at dawn. There goes Mick Collins again.

Then Joe Duffy got stuck in and before the Liveline closed, the newly released Mick Murphy, one of the Jobstown Four, was on air, hoovering up some more capital.

The matter at issue is serious, and deserving of investigation. The incident at issue brought protest to a place it hadn’t been theretofore. Whether it required the response that the gardaí provided is a matter of debate. A reported six officers have been working on the investigation for three months. That’s a lot of investigation time.

The manner in which it advanced yesterday was in peril of lurching into farce.


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