In a shock ruling today Justice Coughlan dismissed charges against a protester who was badly assaulted by Gardaí at a pro-Palestinian protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Dublin Ireland. The protester John Rooney was dragged face first across a road and was being restrained by Gardaí (Irish police) while he had a severe epileptic fit. Gardaí even put handcuffs on him after the seizure had started. The trauma of the attack spurred on a series of epileptic fits and John was hospitalised for a period of ten days. He was placed in a drug-induced coma and was moved to a cardiac ward.
Two days before the six-month deadline in which the Gardaí had to either bring charges or drop the case, Mr Rooney was charged under section 8 and 9 of the public order act. Today the case was thrown out of court due to the US embassy’s failure to provide relevant CCTV footage of Mr Rooney from a camera right above where the incident took place. When the incident occurred in July 2014 a video of the attack went viral, the Irish population was disgusted by the behaviour of Gardaí.
It all began when a rocket was launched onto a beach in Palestine killing four children from the Bakr family who were playing soccer in July of 2014. The deaths kicked off a wave of pro-Palestinian protests worldwide, Ireland was no different. Approximately 5,000 protesters started off on O’Connell Street in Dublin City Center then held their first demonstration at government buildings. A number of people lay down on the road with “blood” spattered sheets covering their bodies representing the senseless murder of Palestinians by the Israeli government. The protesters then marched down the streets of Dublin to the Israeli embassy where they held a peaceful protest. One individual jumped over a hedge into the carpark of the building where the embassy resides on the fifth floor. John got onto an external wall of the carpark along with 30 or 40 protesters and was reporting what was happening on the other side to the people standing on the ground. There were no serious confrontations.
Eventually, approximately 50 protesters decided to move to the American embassy. Outside the US Embassy two protesters were arrested suddenly and without warning. In response to the arrests, the remaining 50 or so protesters held a sit down protest in the street at a pedestrian crossing. Just as john was leaving the road he found himself upside down with his arm, shoulder and head being shoved into and dragged along the tarmac and concrete of the road. John Rooney was cut and bruised and began to have an epileptic fit on the road with Gardaí restraining him not only by resting their weight on his body, but after the fit began they chose to cuff him. John was rushed to hospital and in the following days he suffered a series of severe epileptic fits that caused him to be hospitalised for ten days. He was put in a medically induced coma and placed on a cardiac ward.
Two days shy of six months later, John was charged with section 8 and 9 of the public order act. Justice Coughlan during a number of hearings on the case, expressed his dissatisfaction at the Gardai and the Director of Public Prosecution. He warned them about allowing officials in the US embassy to dictate Garda Reports and their inability to get relevant CCTV footage from a particular camera outside the building facing a public footpath. The case was thrown out on the basis that the Gardai and the DPP were unable to get the US embassy to hand over the footage of the rotational CCTV camera. Justice Coughlan said “The American embassy is deliberately not handing over CCTV.”
John Rooney told Revolution News: “I am happy with the way things went today. It doesn’t feel good. It feels like being assaulted twice. First by Garda Siochana in the streets and then by the Irish Government in the courts. It feels like I have had to carry the burden of proving my innocence by subpoenaing journalists to give evidence and having to have my friends and comrades showing up to so many court days sometimes for only a few minutes at a time… I’ll be glad when things get back to normal.”