Updated: 08/05/17 : 14:10:31
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Water protest was 'very frightening' says former Burton adviser

A special adviser to former tánaiste Joan Burton has told the Circuit Criminal Court she does not accept there were long periods of calm during a water charge protest in Tallaght in November 2014.

Karen O'Connell was giving evidence in the trial of Solidarity TD Paul Murphy and six other men who are charged with falsely imprisoning her and Ms Burton during the protest.

RTÉ reports that the prosecution says she, along with Ms Burton, were trapped in cars for up to three hours by protesters.

All seven defendants deny the charges.

On her third day in the witness box Ms O'Connell was shown a three-and-half minute video clip which Defence Counsel Michael O'Higgins said showed a calm atmosphere.

Ms O'Connell replied: "If by calm you mean there wasn't a scuffle at that particular time I accept that, but it was still a very frightening experience, as you can see we were surrounded and trapped in a car and unable to leave. We were entirely surrounded."

Mr O'Higgins asked if someone had told her what the legal definition of false imprisonment was to which she replied: "I know it’s wrong to keep people in a car and stop them going about their business"

Mr O'Higgins suggested the video showed for that particular portion the crowd being very calm and well behaved.

Ms O'Connell said: "I saw people banging on the window and screaming at us in that clip."

Earlier Mr O'Higgins accepted that her experience in the first car as people surrounded it and threw things and banged on the car must have been an "upsetting and frightening experience".

However, he asked if an egg being thrown was "a big deal" in the overall scheme of things.

Ms O'Connell replied: "If you can throw an egg at a woman that works for a politician or scream the word c*** at a politician where is the line drawn?"

The offences are alleged to have occurred on 15 November 2014, as the former tánaiste was attending a graduation ceremony at An Cosán Centre in Jobstown on 15 November 2014.

The defendants are: Solidarity TD, Paul Murphy, 34, from Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Councillor Michael Murphy, 53, from Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden in Dublin; Councillor Kieran Mahon, 39, from Bolbrook Grove, Tallaght; Scott Masterson, 34, from Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght; Frank Donaghy, 71, from Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Michael Banks, 46, Brookview Green, Tallaght; and Ken Purcell, 50, from Kiltalown Green, also in Tallaght.

The trial is expected to last at least six weeks.