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TD Paul Murphy says he's entitled to legal aid because he can't afford court costs

TD Paul Murphy has been granted legal aid to defend his case on charges of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton.

LEGAL AID HAS been assigned to Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy in relation to his trial on charges of falsely imprisoning Tánaiste Joan Burton during a water charges protest almost 18 months ago.

A trial date has not yet been fixed for the Dáil deputy.

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He was sent forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on two charges of false imprisonment of Ms Burton and of Karen O’Connell at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown on 15 November 2014.

In court today, a solicitor acting for Murphy said he was making an application for legal aid and handed in a statement of means. He said the State was on notice and had no objection. He said the case could last four to six weeks.

The State solicitor confirmed that there was no garda objection based on the figures in the documentation and said it was a matter for the court to decide.

Judge Melanie Greally said based on the average weekly income in the documentation she would assign legal aid.

The figures in the documentation were not disclosed in open court.

Murphy defends the decision

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon, Murphy defended his decision to receive legal aid.

As a TD, Murphy is entitled to an annual salary of €87,258 before tax, which he said amounts to €4,000 a month.

But Murphy said he doesn’t receive a full TD wage because of an arrangement he has with his party.

Instead, he takes a ‘young worker’s wage’ of just over €1,800 a month after tax. He said the rest of the money goes to a ‘solidarity fund’ for various campaigns, as part of an agreement with the Anti-Austerity Alliance Party.

I receive a net annual salary of just over €1,800 a month and with that I pay my mortgage and other bills. On that basis, there’s no way I could afford legal costs of €50,000.

Murphy said there isn’t a written agreement with the party, but his TD salary is paid into an account that is not his personal account. His allowance is then transferred to his current account, he said.

“I simply wouldn’t be able to afford the legal fees and that was demonstrated in court,” he said. “Even if I received a full TD’s salary, I don’t think it would be possible.”

Murphy said he wouldn’t have been eligible for legal aid if the State had not pursued the case in the higher court.

The responsibility for this lies with the state.

Ms Burton and her entourage had left a graduation event at An Cosan Education Centre at Jobstown, Tallaght when a demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours on 15 November 2014.

She and her team had been attempting to travel by car to St Thomas’ Church for the rest of the ceremony when it is alleged the incident occurred.

Murphy’s case will be before the court again on 3 May for mention.

- Additional reporting: Isabel Hayes 

Comments are turned off on this article as the case is before the courts.

Read: Paul Murphy says Jobstown protesters want to face trial together

Read: “We think these charges should be dropped” – Paul Murphy defiant after Jobstown hearing

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Fiona Ferguson

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