Policing of Jobstown water charges protest a ‘success’

By Brendan Grehan

AN INTERNAL review of policing of the anti-water charges protest in Jobstown in November had found the policing to have been a “qualified success”.

At the protest the gardai rescued former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her advisor after they had been trapped in a car for some hours.

Joan Burton Protest 07

Gardai on duty at the anti-water charges protest in Jobstown in November 2014

Describing the reponse as a qualified success, the review states: “This is borne out by the fact that the then Tánaiste and her assistant were extricated from the protest without physical injury”.

The review adds that no protestor “reported any physical injuries or lodged any complaint in respect of the conduct of members of An Garda Síochana who participated in the policing of this event.”

The review runs to just four pages. It includes only scant references to the contentious criminal trials that followed the protest.

Tallaght TD Paul Murphy and five others were found not guilty of falsely imprisoning ex-Labour Party leader Joan Burton and her then assistant Karen O’Connell on November 15 2014, at Fortunestown Road in Jobstown, Dublin.

The  review said there was little evidence of a Garda strategic assessment before the trouble.

It said: “From the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the risk of a serious outburst of public disorder was likely to occur around this time as demonstrated by the considerable number of public order incidents surrounding the installation of water meters in October and November 2014, coupled with the two specific incidents in the days immediately preceding this visit of the Tanaiste to Jobstown.

It makes a range of recommendations to ensure advance information warning of likely disorder is picked up earlier. It also recommends that gardai on the ground and Garda managers are better trained for such incidents.

It also suggests the flexibility of the Garda’s response to live incidents be improved.

It also found Garda policies were inadequate in the areas of on-scene command and critical incident management.

The review notes a draft policy on public order incident command is completed and it recommends its publication “as a matter of urgency”.

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