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Review of Jobstown protest finds gardaí should have anticipated 'serious outburst of public disorder'

The review pointed out that there was a considerable number of public order incidents in the area in the run up to the 2014 protest.

File photo (not of protest)
File photo (not of protest)
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

AN INTERNAL REVIEW of the policing operation around the Jobstown protest in 2014 has found garda intelligence should have anticipated an outburst of public disorder at that time.

During the incident, anti-water protesters, including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, prevented a car transporting then Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell from leaving the area for several hours as gardaí attempted to move them through the crowd.

A number of people were arrested and charged in connection with the protest, but in June last year six people including Murphy were found not guilty of false imprisonment.

There were criticisms of the way in which gardaí on the ground handled the protest and an internal review was launched in July last year.

Published this afternoon, a summary of the review said it found there was little or no evidence to suggest there was any strategic assessment of the extent of public disquiet in the area or the potential impact of this on public order and protection.

From the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the risk of a serious outburst of public disorder was likely to occur around this time as demonstrated by the considerable number of public order incidents surrounding the installation of water meters in October and November 2014, coupled with the two specific incidents in the days immediately preceding this visit of the Tánaiste to Jobstown. These events should have increased the level of risk and been picked up by Garda Intelligence.

‘Tactical options

The internal report found that from the perspective of a basic policing operation, the response was a “qualified success”.

“This is borne out by the fact that the then Tánaiste and her assistant were extricated from the protest without physical injury,” it said.

“Furthermore, when this event concluded no protester reported any physical injuries or lodged any complaint in respect of the conduct of members of An Garda Síochana who participated in the policing of this event.”

However it said the event lacked strategic direction and “various tactical options do not appear to have been explored”. An examination of communications gave “little indication of any strategic control or direction into how this event was managed”.

The review found that, “from an objective perspective” this investigation was brought to a successful conclusion, with a significant number of files submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions “in an efficient and expeditious manner”.

It acknowledged that “not all of the existing policies and procedures were followed to the letter”, but found there was “more than sufficient compliance” and in cases where non-compliance was encountered, this did not affect the overall outcome of the investigation.

However, the review noted that, when set against the benchmark of court outcomes, “it is questionable as to how successful this investigation actually was”.

The review has made a number of recommendations, including ensuring robust structures are in place to monitor levels of public disorder and training in strategic command.

An Garda Síochána said there is a further addendum to the report and following ongoing discussions with the DPP an update will be issued.

Read: ‘How in God’s name could that be called a comprehensive analysis?’: Garda homicide figures probed>

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