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Former Burton adviser tells Jobstown trial she referred to 'f**king dregs' due to stressful situation

Karen O’Connell told the court she was not proud of using ‘bad language’ and said she was very upset at the time.

SCC Rolling 5 Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

A FORMER SPECIAL adviser to Labour TD Joan Burton has said she was embarrassed by certain language she used while her and Burton were caught up in the middle of a water protest.

The jury in the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and six other men were shown a video clip of Karen O’Connell telling Burton: “This always happens at the end of a protest, the fu**ing dregs decide not to finish it.”

Mr Murphy (34) along with South Dublin Councillors Michael Murphy (53) and Kieran Mahon (39) and four other men have pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning Burton and O’Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on 15 November 2014.

On her second day in the witness box, Karen O’Connell was cross-examined by Padraig Dwyer SC, who is defending Frank Donaghy.

The jury were shown video clips from both O’Connell and Burton’s mobile phones and Dwyer asked the witness what she meant when she referred to “the fu**ing dregs”.

‘Bad language’

O’Connell said she was not proud of using “bad language” and said she was very upset at the time.

“I was very upset, I’m not proud of it. It’s only human to resort to it when you’re in a situation like that, a stressful situation.”

“We had been in car for three-and-a-half hours at that point, and my understanding was that we were to be released following a slow-march,” she said.

Counsel put it to her that she was contemptuous of the protesters and this was her motive in using the word ‘dregs’.

She explained that she had used the word to mean “the end of something, the end of a protest, the end of a drink, the end of a cigarette”.

She told Dwyer that he was trying to insinuate that she was insulting the crowd that was there and insisted that was not her intention.

She added that she believed in peaceful protest and that “inflicting pain would never be my intention” as part of this.

The witness said that she was petrified during the protest at Jobstown. Dwyer told the witness that he believed her evidence was exaggerated in that respect, referencing video clips reflecting a relaxed and jovial atmosphere in the car.

“You’ve shown me a few clips of a three-hour ordeal. I was fearful and very upset,” she said.

Dwyer asked O’Connell why she could be heard laughing on the video clip.

“When people are upset, people often laugh in very nervous and tense situations, difficult situations are stressful and it’s human to laugh out of nervous tension,” she said.


O’Connell told Dwyer that she only began using her phone to record the situation because protesters were recording her.

However, Dwyer put it to her that the video, filmed from inside the Garda car, clearly shows a protester taking out a phone in response to O’Connell filming him.

“When I got into the car, I was panicked, upset and crying. There were people on all sides of the car with camera phones. I do accept none of the protesters are filming us in that clip,” she said.

Dwyer referred to the fact that O’Connell had taken part in protests during the ‘Shell-to- Sea’ campaign in Rossport, Co Mayo, a campaign against the construction of a natural gas pipeline.

During the protests cars were restricted from refuelling at Shell petrol stations both in the locality and around the country.

“I did take part in some of the protests but I would never have restricted someone’s liberty,” O’Connell said.

Paul Murphy of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, Kieran Mahon of Holbrook Grove, Tallaght, Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin, Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght, Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght, Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have denied the charges.

The trial continues on Monday in front of Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.

Comments are closed as the case remains before the courts

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Sarah Jane Murphy