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Leo Varadkar says 'it's a problem' that garda evidence conflicted with video footage in Jobstown trial

Varadkar discussed Paul Murphy, the Eighth Amendment and women in the Dáil in a wide-ranging RTÉ interview.

Image: Prime Time/RTÉ

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that the issue of evidence given by gardaí in the Jobstown trial conflicting with video evidence is something that should be looked at by the garda commissioner and senior garda management.

Paul Murphy, who was one of the men on trial accused of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton, has led the calls for a public inquiry into the garda investigation after all men were acquitted last week.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time, the Taoiseach said that he didn’t think a public inquiry into the Jobstown investigation “would actually serve any purpose”.

In a wide-ranging interview, Varadkar also discussed the recent furore over a blogger approached by gardaí after criticising Regina Doherty on social media and female representation at cabinet level.

“People need to trust the gardaí”

When asked about the Jobstown trial, and the role that Paul Murphy played in it, Varadkar discussed the role of garda evidence on the stand. He said:

We need to be able to trust that when the Gardai stand up in court and they say something happened that it did happen and it shouldn’t conflict with video evidence and if it does then that is a problem.

The Taoiseach said that he would be “very concerned if it’s the case that we would ever have gardaí on a stand in the court giving evidence that is not in line with the facts”.

He said it was something that needed to be looked at by both garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and senior garda management.

While he did not think a public inquiry was warranted, he said that these issues need to be looked at. He said:

I don’t think a public inquiry would actually serve any purpose, you know we’ve had a trial. There’s been a trial, went on for nine weeks, the jury heard the evidence from both sides, and they decided to acquit and nobody is disputing that.
As has been the case with other things, you know for example the trial of Sean Fitzpatrick, I do think we need to consider why the prosecutions weren’t successful. I don’t think this necessarily requires a public inquiry but we do need to obviously examine these things.

In a statement this evening, Paul Murphy said that Varadkar’s comments were “the first crack in the wall of opposition to a public inquiry”.

He said that the admission from the Taoiseach that the evidence from some gardaí was contradictory to the video evidence “reaffirms the need for an independent public inquiry”.

Women in politics

Varadkar again defended the female representation in his cabinet and said 10 of 12 female TDs that support the government are in “paid promotional positions”.

“The difficulty is that we don’t have women members of parliament, TDs in the Dáil,” he said.

He said that “we have a long way to go”, and that he was determined to ensure that representation of women is increased in the next Dáil.

Speaking about the recent controversy involving a blogger being cautioned by gardaí after a complaint was made based on criticism of Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, Varadkar said that he didn’t know the details of it.

He added: “I would imagine that if anyone was cautioned by the Gardai it would be done for legitimate reason. You know, Gardai don’t caution people because of interpersonal disputes or a civil offence.”

On the issue of the Eighth Amendment, Varadkar said that he believed Ireland’s abortion laws are “too restrictive” but wouldn’t be drawn on how these laws should change.

The Taoiseach also said that he was a “little bit surprised” that the Citizens’ Assembly recommended unlimited access to abortion, but wasn’t surprised that it suggested repealing or replacing the Eighth.

Read: They’ve not gone away you know: Acquitted Jobstown protesters gather political support for inquiry

Read: Gardaí say Jobstown trial would have ‘benefitted hugely’ from body cam footage

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Sean Murray

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