ANTI AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TD Paul Murphy has been released from garda custody this afternoon.
Murphy emerged from Terenure Garda station just after 3.30pm today to a small crowd of cheering supporters and spoke with the media alongside his party colleague Joe Higgins.
He had been arrested and questioned this morning by gardaí investigating the protests in Jobstown last November where Tánaiste Joan Burton was held in her car for over three hours.
Murphy was arrested early this morning and questioned by gardaí over allegations of false imprisonment. He released without charge and a file is being prepared for the DPP.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Murphy confirmed that six gardaí came to his home to arrest him at 7am this morning. He said they were civil but quite “forceful”.
He said that he engaged with gardaí in having his photo taken and other procedures but said he did not answer questions put to him by officers about the Jobstown incident on the advice of his solicitor.
Colleagues also arrested
Two of Murphy’s party colleagues were also arrested early this morning and questioned as part of the investigation. They were released at around lunchtime.
The pair of AAA councillors Kieran Mahon and Mick Murphy – both of South Dublin County Council - have also been released without charge.
The fourth person arrested this morning, Éirigí’s Scott Masterson, has also now been released.
A small number of protesters gathered outside Terenure station with homemade signs along with around 20 reporters, camera people and photographers prior to Murphy’s release.
Earlier, Mick Murphy told RTÉ’s Liveline upon his release that he was shown videos of the Jobstown protests by gardaí who questioned him this morning, including footage from the garda helicopter.
A Garda spokesperson said earlier that four males aged between 30 and 50 had been arrested early this morning.
They were detained at various southside Dublin Garda stations under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Higgins told TheJournal.ie this morning that the Dublin South-West TD was arrested at his home at 7am.
“It’s quite outrageous that they would take him from his bed at 7am this morning. These are ordinary, decent people. It wouldn’t happen to a big financier. Six gardaí arrived at the door, that’s a bit overkill don’t you think?,” the Dublin West TD said.
Mokhtareizadh Farrah, the TD’s partner, said Murphy had still been in his pyjamas when officers called to arrest him.
The Tánaiste was trapped in her car for over three hours on Saturday 15 November as she attempted to leave a graduation event at An Cosán — a higher education college.
Banging loudly on the vehicle, the protesters chanted “shame on you” and “peaceful protest”.
Burton was eventually escorted away by gardaí in a patrol car, after a tense stand-off with demonstrators that saw the Public Order Unit and dozens of back-up gardaí called in.
Two people were arrested on the day itself — but this morning’s were the first arrests in connection with the follow-up investigation.
The Tánaiste — who was also struck by a water balloon thrown by Jobstown protesters at An Cosán— gave a statement to Gardaí the week after the incident happened.
Others caught up in the action have also given statements to investigating officers and Gardaí have also been trawling through video footage captured and uploaded to social media sites.
In the days after the incident, Murphy insisted the Jobstown protest had been largely peaceful.
“I don’t need to apologise for anything that I was responsible for or involved in,” he told TheJournal.ie the following week.
Burton said language “heavily-loaded with sexual imagery against women” was shouted at her and her assistant while protesters clamoured outside the car.
“I was concerned if the [car] doors were opened what would happen next,” she added.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke earlier, Anti Austerity TD Ruth Coppinger criticised what she said had been a “huge mobilisation of Garda resources to arrest three elected representatives”.
She said she didn’t expect any charges to arise from the investigation, maintaining Murphy and his colleagues hadn’t done anything wrong.
Coppinger also rejected suggestions that the development was “political manna from heaven” for her party.
Farrah (Murphy’s partner) told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny the politician had still been in his pyjamas when gardaí called, and that he asked if he could change.
She said he had been prepared for gardaí to arrive, and that they had to be prepared for every possibility.
Joe Higgins said that gardaí hadn’t contacted Murphy in advance of his arrest.
In a statement this afternoon, Éirigí’s Brian Leeson said Masterson had been arrested at his home at 7am as he prepared his two young daughters for pre-school and primary school.
“When Scott’s partner returned to the house, having earlier gone to work, there were eight Gardaí in the house along with Scott and the two children. Scott was then arrested and made to stand in handcuffs on a public road for a number of minutes before being transported to Tallaght Garda barracks,” Leeson’s statement said.
He said the arrests over the blocking of the Tánaiste’s car smacked of political policing and had been designed “to cause maximum disruption to Scott, his partner and their young family”.
- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell