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06 Dec 2021

Louth man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed

Louth man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

A Louth man who used a wooden post to strike a woman on the head during an anti-lockdown rally last year has been jailed for two years.

Judge Martin Nolan described the attack by Michael Quinn, 30, of Malone Flats, Market Street, Ardee, Louth, on Ruth O'Rourke AKA Izzy Kamikaze in September 2020 as cowardly.

He said the behaviour of Quinn and his associates after the attack was reprehensible.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, outlined to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court how on September 12 last year Ms Kamikaze, 58, had attended a rally in the city centre in support of front line workers.

On the same day a “yellow vest” protest was taking place near Custom House and protestors from this event were later making their way up towards Kildare Street, where a further protest against Covid lockdown regulations was taking place outside Leinster House.

Reading from her own victim impact statement today, Ms Kamikaze said that after being struck by the post she fell to the ground. She said her presence and the presence of her friends was then highlighted by a speaker from the platform and hundreds of protesters then turned to them.

“The entire crowd turned towards us. They swarmed towards us with the aim of driving us off the street,” Ms Kamikaze said. She said they were shouting, “Paedo scum off our streets” with the “air of a crazed mob”.

She said she lay on the ground for 10 seconds listening to the protestors “baying” for her blood.

“Ten seconds is a long time to listen to that chanting. Ten seconds is a long time to listen to a mob baying for your blood, especially when you’re lying on the ground,” she said.

 “I thought I was about to die or receive life-threatening injuries,” Ms Kamikaze said. She said she was able to get up before the first angry boot could hit her face.

She said when she got back to her feet she stood for around five minutes “to exercise my right to stand in the street”. She said blood was running down her head and face and soaking her clothes as protesters shouted a tirade of abuse at her and her four friends, who included a teenager and two women in their 40s and 50s.

The abusive terms included paedos, weirdos, dyke and shouting “you think you're a man” and “how's the head, missus” along with laughter.

She said she was grateful that Quinn's “cudgel” struck her head and not the head of a more vulnerable person and that Quinn “hurt himself and his movement far more than he hurt me”.

Video footage of the assault and the mob's behaviour afterwards was released online and Ms Kamikaze said that this meant “a lot of people came to their senses about how dangerous it is to ignore far right protests”.

She said the footage caused people to consider “the evil in the heart of people who would beat people off the street for their gender or ethnicity”.

Quinn, of Malone Flats, Market Street, Ardee, Louth, entered a guilty plea last June to assault causing harm to Ruth O'Rourke AKA Izzy Kamikaze on Kildare Street, Dublin 2 on September 9, 2020. His 48 previous convictions include assault, violent disorder, affray, burglary, theft and public order offences.

Justin McQuaid BL, defending, told the court that his client had instructed him to offer a public apology to Ms Kamikaze. He asked the court to note a Probation Service report which stated that Quinn has displayed some “level of victim empathy” and is remorseful.

He said Quinn takes full responsibility for his actions and that is his reason for his early plea of guilty. He said his client suffers from mental health, takes anti-depressants and that alcohol is a feature in his life.

He said that domestic violence and alcohol featured in his upbringing but said he is taking steps to address his issues.

Judge Nolan said that everyone is entitled to demonstrate but that the injured party was perfectly entitled to be on a public street.

He said this was a serious assault, partly as a result of the motivations. He said Quinn has shown a propensity for violence in the past and imposed a three-year prison term. He suspended the final year on certain conditions.

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