Friday, 21st July 2017
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One of the longest running court cases and certainly one of the costliest, coming in at approximately 4 million euro, the result was one that most people could see coming. The six men who were picked out of a crowd of about over 100 people who allegedly detained the Tánaiste and her personal assistant over the water charges debacle were late last week found not guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

There are so many angles and so many interpretations of what went on and what the outcome of this case will be that you could spend another 10 weeks discussing the whole affair. The main question has been answered and that is that the men were not guilty of unlawfully detaining the Tánaiste. That is not to say that others in the crowd were not guilty of doing so, it is just these six men who were picked out by the Gardaí and then prosecuted were judged to have the largest case to answer.

The six men called it a political fix from the start and said that they didn't do anything to the Tánaiste and that in actual fact the detainment of the Tánaiste was the fault of the police as they just didn't know what to do at that particular time. This was later corroborated by a former Tánaiste and Barrister Michael McDowell who said that if he had been in the car at that time and the same event had happened he was sure that he could have gotten the police to do something far swifter than they did with Joan Burton. Whether this would have been the case or not would be open to interpretation but there is a feeling that the police weren't exactly on top form on the day in question.

Then there is the whole issue of whether what happened constituted a reasonable demonstration and whether in future all demonstrations of a similar nature would be allowed. This is the angle that the six men on trial were to make on numerous occasions, that they were only exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate in a public matter. Then there was the opposite angle from other national public figures who said that they were frightened that the result of this case would give thugs the go ahead and behave in any manner that they deemed justifiably political.

The answer to both of these questions and scenarios is an emphatic no. This wasn't a political trial if only the people who were being tried were political. You have to have some faith in the independence of the judicial system here in Ireland and not be too quick to rush to judgment. In the same manner this case won't be taken as a free for all on politicians. If that was the case there would be people lining up outside Kildare Street as we speak. Politicians have to remember that on the whole they are not that important.


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