List of the Week: 10 politicians who have been arrested

Paul Murphy’s arrest generated plenty of publicity, but there have been many others

The arrest of Paul Murphy, the Socialist Party TD, on Monday generated an avalanche of publicity, but politicians of all hues have been arrested – some for offences related to political activity, others not. Here are some of the more noteworthy incidents.

1. Charles Haughey

On May 27th, 1970, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, two TDs who had been prominent ministers just a few weeks earlier, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to import arms. Haughey was arrested at his Kinsealy mansion by the Special Branch and taken in a Garda car to the Bridewell. Noel Whelan in his book on Fianna Fáil says that Haughey was particularly infuriated because the Supreme Court judge Brian Walsh was a dinner guest when the gardaí arrived. Haughey and Blaney were subsequently acquitted of the charges.

2. Tony Gregory


The Independent Dublin Central TD was arrested in 1985 after joining a sit-down protest with current Lord Mayor Christy Burke in support of Dublin street traders. They were charged with obstruction and threatening behaviour. Gregory was sent to Mountjoy jail for two weeks when he refused to sign a bond to keep the peace.

3. Peter Robinson

The current Northern Ireland First Minister was arrested on August 7th, 1985, when he led an “invasion” of 500 DUP supporters across the Border into Clontibret, in Co Monaghan, and held a military parade before being forced back into Northern Ireland by gardaí. He was later tried and fined for his role in the incident.

4. Seán McCarthy

The Fianna Fáil senator from Tipperary was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving at 5am on November 23rd, 1989. He refused to give a blood or urine sample and successfully claimed immunity on the basis that he was on his way home from the Seanad. Article 15.13 of the Constitution provides that TDs and senators “are privileged from arrest going to and returning from” the Houses of the Oireachtas.

5. Liam Lawlor

The Fianna Fáil TD, who was at the centre of planning scandals in the 1990s, was imprisoned in Mountjoy for six weeks, in January 2002, for contempt of court following his failure to co-operate with the planning tribunal. On February 7th he was brought by prison van to Leinster House to speak in a Dáil debate, in which he stoutly defended his position.

6. Joe Higgins

The Socialist Party TD and his then colleague Clare Daly, who was a councillor at the time, were sentenced to a month in prison in September 2003 for defying a High Court order prohibiting them from obstructing bin collections in the Fingal local-authority area. They served their sentence in Mountjoy.

7. Ray Burke

The former minister for justice was sentenced to six months in jail in January 2005 when he pleaded guilty to making false tax returns. He was the most senior politician in the history of the State to go to prison. In recent weeks the planning tribunal has dropped many of the adverse findings it made against him in its 2002 report, which prompted the prosecution.

8. Jim McDaid

On April 18th, 2005, the Fianna Fáil TD and former minister was arrested for driving drunk up the wrong side of the R445 dual carriageway between Naas and Newbridge, Co Kildare. In court it was revealed that he was more than three times over the legal limit. He was fined €750 and banned from driving for two years. Three years earlier, as junior transport minister, he had spearheaded a government anti-drink-driving campaign.

9. Clare Daly

In January 2013 the Independent TD was arrested by gardaí and handcuffed after being stopped and breathalysed. She was brought to Kilmainham Garda station, where a urine sample was taken. News of the arrest was leaked to the media, resulting in a great deal of coverage. The test result showed that she was not over the legal limit.

10. Gerry Adams

On April 30th, 2014, the Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD was arrested in a blaze of publicity in connection with the investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland into the murder of Jean McConville by the IRA in 1972. He was released after being held for four days. At a press conference he said he was innocent of any involvement in McConville’s murder.