Lawyers for a county councillor who is one of the defendants in the Jobstown trial has told a jury the root cause for the escalation of a water charges protest should be laid firmly at the door of gardaí.
Closing arguments are continuing in the trial of six men accused of the false imprisonment of former tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser at a water charges protest in 2014.
Senior Counsel Raymond Comyn, representing Cllr Michael Murphy, said gardaí lost an opportunity to negotiate with protesters while the situation was calm.
A decision to allow Ms Burton leave the church and be placed in a garda car was the foundation for what happened later and led to the temperature of the protest to flare rapidly, he said.
Mr Comyn said any opportunity to negotiate after that was lost. He said the evidence of a leading garda that he was waiting for reinforcements before formulating a plan was akin to the "Keystone Cops".
"I don't need to tell you about the crucial nature of dialogue in a situation like this, why was it left until things flared up?," he said.
Mr Comyn said it beggared belief that Cllr Murphy ended up being charged because he was one of those who tried to calm the protesters and move the protest along.
He said the jury would have been left with an utterly different impression about Michael Murphy's intent that day had it not been for the video footage discovered by the defence.
The video showed Cllr Murphy proposing to move the protest on while another woman proposed keeping her there.
He said it was an inversion of logic that the man who was promoting a solution to the problem was now before a court where a woman on the video who promoted the problem was never even identified or tracked down by gardaí.
Mr Comyn said something is rotten at the core of this investigation and the manner in which evidence was given.
"Something that leaves one with a very uneasy and very distasteful taste form the evidence and the way it was given that was demonstrably incorrect and wrong."
He said Cllr Murphy was entitled to fairness and the only way to vindicate that entitlement was to return a verdict of not guilty.
Mahon counsel says 'series of mistakes' made by gardaí
Defence Counsel Kerida Naidoo, representing Cllr Kieran Mahon, said what the prosecution was trying to do was unprecedented in Irish legal history.
"Never in the history of the republic has any Irish jury been asked to convict anyone of the crime of false imprisonment where the allegation against them is that they engaged in peaceful protest and not involved in any violence," he said.
He said while others not in this trial had been charged with violent disorder and false imprisonment his client was not charged with any violent disorder.
If this was the case he could not be guilty of false imprisonment, he said.
Mr Naidoo said a series of mistakes were made on the day by gardaí.
"If they made mistakes on the day it is unfair to visit those mistakes on Kieran Mahon when he didn't say boo to a goose all day,"
Mr Naidoo said the significance of political protest could not be overstated - Mr Mahon had challenged the political establishment and changed society.
He said the prosecution was asking the jury to send out a message that if you behaved peacefully at a protest but others did not, you could still be put on trial for a very serious offence.
He said witnesses in the case like Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell said they were all in favour of political protest but what they meant was ineffectual political protest "which does not affect them".
"They would have loved a line of Fr Dougals and Fr Teds impotently standing there and softly chanting 'down with this sort of thing'. But meaningful political protest is the sort that (causes a party) to go from having 36 seats to six seats and that is the kind of protest they don't want."
He said there was not a hint of hostility from Mr Mahon throughout the event. Video footage showed him walking away from the car when gardaí said the false imprisonment began.
"Could there be clearer evidence of someone having nothing to do with it? He is walking away from the crime being committed."
Mr Mahon could also be seen standing at the back and to the side of the crowd. He sat down in front of a car for five minutes and got up himself without resisting gardaí, Mr Naidoo said.
He said the reason Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell did not get out of the cars was because they were in fear of those engaging in violent disorder.
Mr Mahon was not charged with violent disorder, Mr Naidoo said, and had no hand, act or part in it nor did he advocate or encourage it.
He said it was reasonable for the jury to wonder why Cllr Mahon was isolated for special treatment and arrested in a dawn raid at his home having earlier told gardaí he was willing to cooperate.
"If this not a political trial why are public enemies number one, two and three all anti austerity politicians? Why not run the trial of the people accused of the violence first?", he said.
Neither Ms Burton nor Ms O'Connell actually went to gardaí, he added.
Gardaí came to them to have them make statements.
He said he had "no choice but to call it what it was - abuse of power by the gardaí to show him who was boss and to humiliate him in his own home. To send out the message clearly that he is not a politician he is actually just a criminal and is going to be treated as one by the gardaí."
He said Cllr Mahon was elected by the people to oppose water charges and that is what he did in taking the protest to the politician in government who had promised not to introduce the charges.
He said it would be a grave injustice and unfairness to him if he were to be convicted, not because of his politics but because he was not guilty of false imprisonment.
Closing arguments for the remaining three defendants will be heard tomorrow.