Man who used wooden post to hit woman during anti-lockdown rally is jailed

The woman said that after being struck on the head by the post she fell to the ground
Man who used wooden post to hit woman during anti-lockdown rally is jailed

By Declan Brennan

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

Judge Martin Nolan described the attack by Louth man Michael Quinn (30) on Ruth O'Rourke, also known as 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 12th last year Ms Kamikaze (58) had attended a rally in the city centre in support of front line workers.

She and four friends later walked to Kildare Street where a protest against Covid lockdown regulations was taking place outside Leinster House.

Ms Kamikaze was observing the protest when a number of masked men approached her aggressively, some of them concealing weapons or wearing gloves with reinforced knuckles.

She said that Quinn was holding a large plank of wood which had a tricolour nailed to it. He swung this at her head, knocking her to the ground.

Ruth O'Rourke, aka Izzy Kamikaze, speaking outside the Circuit Criminal Court today after Michael Quinn was imprisoned for assaulting her at a protest in September 2020. Photo: Collins

Crazed mob

Reading from her own victim impact statement on Tuesday, Ms Kamikaze described how a large crowd of protesters then began shouting homophobic slurs at her and her friends and continued to do so even after gardaí intervened to keep the hostile crowd at bay.

“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 protesters “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”.

Online video

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, Co Louth, entered a guilty plea last June to assault causing harm to Ruth O'Rourke, also known as Izzy Kamikaze, on Kildare Street, Dublin 2 on September 9th, 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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