Dublin parliament 'toxic truck' accused 'not guilty'

A builder who drove a concrete mixer truck at the gates of the Irish parliament has been found not guilty of criminal damage and dangerous driving.

Joe McNamara, 41, of Achill Island, County Mayo, was arrested in September.

"Anglo Toxic Bank" was written on his lorry and it had a billboard saying: "All politicians should be sacked."

Anglo Irish Bank has become synonymous with the banking crash in the Republic of Ireland. It needed a government bail out of about 34bn euros (£29.56bn).

It was the second time the truck was used in such a protest, having blocked the entrance to a branch of Anglo Irish Bank in Galway last April.

Minor damage was caused to the paintwork on the gateways of the Irish parliament in the centre of Dublin during Mr McNamara's protest. It cost 35 euros (£30.43) to fix.

The state argued that Mr McNamara had a case to answer because he had recklessly used a defective vehicle.

The brake lines on the mixer had been cut which meant it could only be towed away using specialist equipment.

But at Dublin District Court on Monday, a judge dismissed the charges against Mr McNamara.

She said there was doubt around whether the lorry was defective when it was being driven to parliament gates or whether it was rendered defective when it was brought to a standstill.

She also said police witnesses did not make notes to support claims they cautioned Mr McNamara to produce his licence and certificate of road worthiness.

Mr McNamara said he was happy with the court's decision.

"Since day dot this was not about publicity, it was to make a protest," he said.

He said that while he owed 7.5m euros (£6.5m) to Anglo at one stage, "the debt has reduced a hell of a lot since".

At the time of the arrest, Mr McNamara has said: "My name does not matter. The truck belongs to Anglo bank. I am returning it to them. Take away the keys."

Mr McNamara's solicitor Cahir O'Higgins represented him for free.

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