Speaking on RTÉ’s ‘Prime Time’ last night, Leo Varadkar has highlighted concerns regarding the testimonies given by Gardaí during the Jobstown trial.
According to the Irish Independent an internal garda review is currently underway, led by Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien. It will examine the following; Key learning points, how organisational practices could be improved, training, and miscellaneous issues to note.
The Taoiseach says that there is no public inquiry planned into the Jobstown case as there has already been a trial, however he says that there are inconsistencies that require investigation.
TD Paul Murphy, Cllrs Michael Murphy and Kieran Mahon, Scott Masterson, Frank Donaghy and Michael Banks had been on trial for two months in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after being accused of falsely imprisoning the then Tanaiste Joan Burton and her colleague in Jobstown, Dublin in November 2014.
It took the jury of seven men and four women three hours to deliver their unanimous verdict.
In the ‘Prime Time’ interview, Varadkar told David McCullagh that although the accused were acquitted, the behaviour of protesters recorded on video is not “in any way acceptable”.
“I think all of us have seen scenes of Jobstown and what we’ve seen – people can form their own opinions on that – the people who were charged with false imprisonment were found not guilty by a jury and I think we all need to accept that.
“At the same time, that doesn’t mean that the scenes that we saw, or the behaviour or the way Joan Burton and Karen O’Connell were treated is in any way acceptable. One thing that really hit me, hit a lot of people as well, was the idea that there was, and it was confirmed, that there was a vote, a debate on whether they should be let go or not.”
Varadkar also spoke out about how the discrepancies between garda testimonies and video evidence must be investigated by senior garda management.
“People need to trust what the gardai say on the stand, and I can understand that perhaps in a scenario whereby lots of things are happening quickly and people are caught up in the heat of the moment, they may have a recollection that isn’t exactly as things happened.
“I would be very concerned if it’s the case that we would ever have gardaí on the stand in the court giving evidence that is not in line with the facts, that is not in line, for example, with the video evidence.
“I think there is something there that needs to be looked at by the garda commissioner and by senior garda management because we need to be able to trust that when the gardai stand up in court and they say something happened that that did happen.
“It shouldn’t conflict with the video evidence and if it does that is a problem.
“We do need to consider why the prosecutions weren’t successful, I don’t know if it requires a public inquiry, but we do to examine these things.”
Leo Varadkar also added that he is feeling positive about the trajectory of the Irish economy, and how he doesn’t subscribe to either the left or right political binary.
“I want to build on the work of Enda Kenny. The country has entered a different phase. We have just come out of a long period of austerity; a period during which our economy was in recovery and into a different phase now where I think we can be ambitious about the future.
“I want to take the best concepts from the left and the best from the right and drive things from the center.
“I want Ireland to be at the heart of Europe,” added the Taoiseach.