Belfast Telegraph

Politician cleared of false imprisonment renews calls for public inquiry

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy has renewed calls for a public inquiry into his prosecution over an anti-water charge protest after the Garda Commissioner said an internal review would not cover the court case.

The Dublin South-West politician and five others were acquitted of falsely imprisoning former tanaiste Joan Burton in Jobstown, Tallaght, at the demonstration in 2014.

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said one of her senior team was examining how the investigation was handled from a "lessons learned perspective".

But she said the internal review will not include anything that happened in court during the trial, including the testimony of three officers, amid claims from Mr Murphy that perjury had been committed.

His allegations in the Dail on Wednesday that Garda witnesses had lied and that their evidence was contradicted by video footage has been referred to a special parliamentary watchdog.

There have been claims that it was an abuse of privilege.

Mr Murphy said the Commissioner's insistence that the Garda review will not cover the court case is significant but no surprise.

"It puts the ball firmly in (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar's court. That was his out - to say there might be some issues here and then that they could be investigated," Mr Murphy said.

"It means now that despite the Taoiseach's call for the gardai to look into it, they are not."

The issue of the Garda review of the Jobstown affair and the unsuccessful prosecutions was raised in the Public Accounts Committee by Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald.

During heated exchanges with the Sinn Fein deputy leader, the Commissioner said it would be inappropriate for the head of the internal review, Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien, to interfere with matters that are before the courts.

It is understood a number of trials related to incidents at the Jobstown water charge protest are pending.

Ms O'Sullivan added that the review would not include the "court process" of Mr Murphy's trial.

"He (the Assistant Commissioner) would not have any authority," the Garda chief said.

Mr Murphy clashed with the Taoiseach in the Dail on Wednesday after making allegations about the evidence given by gardai during his trial.

Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail said he had consulted parliamentary legal advisers and referred Mr Murphy's remarks to the Committee on Procedure.

While the Taoiseach has said there should be a Garda review of the handling of the Jobstown protest, he also told Mr Murphy that he was not the victim and that he should p ublic apologise to Ms Burton and her adviser Karen O'Connell.

He described the anti-water charge protest on the day as "thuggery".

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