32 charged over Dublin protests

 18 people are to face trial by jury in connection to a protest in Jobstown, Tallaght in November 2014

18 people are to face trial by jury in connection to a protest in Jobstown, Tallaght in November 2014

Eighteen people including Anti-Austerity Alliance TD, Paul Murphy, face trial by jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in relation to a protest a year ago involving Tánaiste, Joan Burton and her special advisor.

Sixteen of those brought before Dublin District Court today, including Mr Murphy, were charged with falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and Karen O'Connell at Fortunestown Road on 15 November 2014.  Two others were charged with violent disorder.

Solicitor Cahir O'Higgins, who represented a number of the accused claimed the height of the State's case was accusing people of the unlawful imprisonment of a vehicle, not a person.

All eighteen are due back in court again on 14 December when they are expected to be served with the book of evidence.

In a separate case, eleven people, including United Left Alliance TD, Joan Collins, were before the court charged with public order offences in relation to a protest against water charges and water meter installation in Harold's Cross in Dublin on 20 April this year.

They will be before the court again on 30 November. Mr O'Higgins who was also representing some of the accused in that case, told the court his clients had been involved in a peaceful and ordinary protest, like dozens of other protests. 

He said it was their case that this protest had been "unusually policed".  He said he is looking for any correspondence between Irish Water or GMC/Sierra and  An Garda Síochána.  The prosecution denies any such correspondence exists.

Mr O'Higgins said this was an unusual case and it was surprising all protest cases had been thrown in together.

He said it threw up issues about the right to protest and where the boundaries of the right to protest lay.   Because of the public interest, the length of the case and the complexity of the case, he asked the judge to allow legal aid to his clients for a solicitor and a barrister. 

The request was granted by Judge Michael Walsh.

In a further case, three people were charged with using threatening, insulting or abusive language in relation to an incident in January this year involving President Michael D Higgins.

He said the case raised important issues in relation to the right to freedom of expression. He also said there would be an issue as to whether or not President Higgins could be summonsed to court to give evidence in the case.

One of the three did not appear in court. That case has also been adjourned to 30 November.

Derek Byrne was also charged this morning with using threatening insulting or abusive language at a protest outside the Dáil on Kildare Street in Dublin in July this year. That matter was adjourned to January next year.

In all 32 people were called before the court in relation to the protests, five women and 27 men.

There were large protests outside the court before and after the case. 

Several hundred supporters of the accused men and women gathered outside the Criminal Courts of Justice from 1pm onwards.

After the court case finished, Paul Murphy, Joan Collins and others addressed the crowd who were shouting slogans including "support the right to demonstrate", and "no way, we won't pay."

A number of vans, said by protesters to be carrying equipment for water meter installation were blocked on Parkgate street for a time.