Water protestor charges a deeply worrying development – Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD
Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn has said news that more than twenty water charges protestors are to be charged over a protest in Tallaght last year is deeply worrying.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said while there can be no doubt that the protest in question could have been handled better the idea that more than twenty protestors could face jail time for delaying the Tánaiste for a couple of hours is highly disproportionate.
“At the time of the arrests of forty protestors over ten days Sinn Féin described these arrests as over the top and excessive and we fail to see the public interest in charging twenty of these protestors.
“The right to protest is a fundamental democratic principle. However, there is a responsibility on those organising protests to ensure that they are safe and peaceful and that they do not go over the top.
“Having said that, protests by their very nature are disruptive, and if you are involved in a very unpopular government, implementing very unpopular policies, then you should expect protests and disruptions.
“The idea that more than twenty protestors could face jail time for delaying the Tánaiste for a couple of hours is highly disproportionate and this is a very worrying development.
“It is also very worrying that the protestors themselves have yet to be informed whether or not they will be charged. The fact that this news was leaked to the media before any of the protestors were informed is proof that there is politics at play here at some level.
“And while it is important that the Director of Public Prosecutions is allowed to do her work independently, it is also very important that the Gardaí do their job without prejudice and I believe that there should be an investigation to find out how and why this information was leaked to the media and that those responsible should face disciplinary proceedings.”