ACQUITTED MEMBERS OF the Jobstown Six, opposition TDs, trade unionists, experts in media studies and activists piled into Buswell’s Hotel in the shadow of the Dáil yesterday morning, with a common call to action in mind.
Nearly 100 TDs, senators and academics have added their names to a list calling for an official inquiry into the events leading up to the six men being charged with the false imprisonment of Joan Burton and her assistant Karen O’Connell.
While six men, including TD Paul Murphy, walked free from Court 13 in the Criminal Courts of Justice last week, there are still a number of people to face trial in relation to events in Jobstown in 2014.
Activists are now pleading with the DPP to drop those charges, which are due to go to trial on 2 October this year, and quash the false imprisonment conviction of a 15-year-old who was tried in the non-jury Children’s Court earlier this year.
While there were many voices heard at Buswell’s, they all spoke in unison, claiming that unfair activity by gardaí led to them being marched out of their homes two and a half years ago in what they called “dawn raids”.
A statement released by the group reads: “We believe that the trial exposed very serious and worrying flaws in the Garda investigation into that protest.”
Media lecturer Harry Browne, who was at today’s meeting, said journalists have a responsibility to be balanced in their reporting. Many present, including People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, spoke of their anger at the media. Barrett, in particular, singled out two newspapers and called some coverage by the media as an “absolute scandal” and “shocking”.
Taoiseach Leo Vardakar has since poured cold water on the prospect of an inquiry saying that he feels the jury did its job and that the matter was over.
Speaking in the Dáil, Varadkar said: “The Government doesn’t have any proposals to bring forward legislation for a public inquiry on this issue.
“It appears to me that Deputy Murphy and his co-defendants got a fair trial. The jury heard the case. They heard both sides of the case and all the evidence and they decided to acquit.
“But I don’t think that means that the behaviour that we saw in Jobstown was decent or acceptable.
“And I think that the way that Deputy Burton and Karen O’Connell were treated was very wrong. I think they were terrorised. I think you can see the fear in their faces when you look at the coverage.”