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'The fear of going to prison is horrible': Jobstown protesters still haven't been told they're being charged

Jobstown residents arrested in connection with the protest said they feel they did no wrong.

Left to right: Paul Kiernan, TD Paul Murphy, Ken and Carol Purcell and Frank Donnaghey.

Obviously I am scared. Probably more for my family who are all taking this really bad as you can imagine. But they know what I do and they know I do it for them, for all the people of this island and future generations.

PAUL KIERNAN IS one of 20 people who were arrested in February in connection with a protest in Jobstown in which Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for more than two hours.

It emerged in a media report this week that he and other protesters are expected to be charged though neither gardaí nor the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions told them anything about it.

Still today as they gathered for a press conference at a community centre in Tallaght they are none the wiser. Keirnan told reporters he had been expecting to be charged though he does not think the sit-down protest that day was “in any way violent”.

He attended the protest because he believes “it’s every man’s duty to stand against tyranny”.

A tough week

His sentiments were mirrored by fellow Jobstown-resident Ken Purcell, who along with his wife Carol, was also arrested on that morning in February.

“Personally when I see an injustice I feel I have to do something about it.”

He told reporters he has seen the impact of the austerity measures in the last few years on his friends and neighbours in Jobstown.

TD Paul Murphy with Carol Purcell and Frank Donnaghey. Source: Sam Boal

His wife said it had been a “really tough week” for their family as Ken’s mother passed away this week.

“My husband’s mother died this week and we buried her on Wednesday and we woke up on Thursday morning to see in the press that we were going to be charged,” she said. “We should have been told by the guards – we should have been warned.”

Last February, Friday the 13th, we had nine guards land on our doorstep at seven o’clock in the morning. We were arrested in front of our children, armed guards , taken away separately and then split up at Tallaght garda station…

She said she would not stand for a scene like that again, asking that gardaí go through their solicitor when they eventually notify them that they have been charged.

“There’s going to be no dawn raids, not after the week we’ve had burying his mother, we couldn’t cope with that.”

‘It’s a horrible feeling’

The 20 protesters are expected to be charged with false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage according to RTÉ News which first broke the story.

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At the community centre today the Jobstown residents said they are worried about the possibility of being jailed with one, Keith Preston, saying “the fear of going to prison is a horrible feeling”. However they strongly believe they did no wrong that day and rejected any suggestions that the protest turned violent.

They said incidents where eggs were thrown and with the Tánaiste being pelted with a water balloon were not connected to the protest. These were the acts of local children, they said.

“Kids will be kids and when kids are left up here deprived with little else to do and see the guards coming in they think it’s game time,” Paul Kiernan said.

Source: Sam Boal

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy was there today with the residents and is among those expected to be charged. He has been critical of the fact that the intention to charge them was leaked to the media before the people involved were told and has formally complained to the DPP, the Garda Commissioner and GSOC.

An internal garda investigation into the leak has been launched – but for the 20 protesters arrested over the demonstration, the wait continues.

Read: Paul Murphy says charges of false imprisonment are “absolutely farcical”. Are they?>

Read: Gardaí investigating how media knew about Jobstown charges before Paul Murphy did>

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