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Dublin: 14°C Wednesday 17 August 2022

Leo Varadkar tells Dáil Jobstown protest was like 'a scene from Lord of the Flies'

The Taoiseach also described the scenes as “ugly” and “violent”.


TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR today compared the infamous Jobstown protest in November 2014 to the book Lord of the Flies.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Fine Gael leader said that the scenes at the Jobstown protest were “ugly” and “violent”.

Responding to questioning from Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, Varadkar said: “I want to restate that I don’t condone in any way the actions of the protesters in Jobstown.

There may have been nobody convicted but I think the scenes were ugly. They were violent.

Varadkar said that he was “particularly struck” by the moment during the protest when a vote was taken on whether to keep the two women – Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell – at the scene overnight. He said:

That to me was more like a scene from Lord of the Flies than a scene from a peaceful protest.

The seminal book by Nobel prize winning author William Golding is centred on a group of British boys who find themselves on a deserted island. They are tasked with governing themselves, but it does not go well as order quickly turns to chaos.

Six men – including Solidarity TD Paul Murphy – were acquitted of falsely imprisoning former Tánaiste Joan Burton, and her adviser, at the 2014 protest in late June.

During the trial, Judge Melanie Greally told the jury that there was some testimony given by gardaí that did not correspond with what was seen in the video evidence.

Murphy and colleagues have since called on the government to launch a public inquiry into the garda investigation which led to the trial.

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So far, the government has said it would not be willing to launch an inquiry, while the gardaí has begun its own review of the investigation.

In an interview on RTÉ’s Prime Time last week, Varadkar admitted that ’it’s a problem’ that garda evidence conflicted with video footage in Jobstown trial.

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.

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.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was critical of Varadkar’s comments, and said that the Taoiseach was “unfair to gardaí”.

Read: Gardaí begin ‘lessons-learnt’ review of Jobstown protest investigation

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

About the author:

Sean Murray

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