Arrests confirm pattern of garda harassment

The arrests of three protestors in Dublin last night (Tuesday night) have been branded by protest organisers as simply the latest in a campaign of garda harassment in the run-up to next weekend's protests.

Arrests confirm pattern of garda harassment

 


NEWS RELEASE Issued by Dublin Grassroots Network Wednesday, April 28th For immediate release

The arrests of three protestors in Dublin last night (Tuesday night) have been branded by protest organisers as simply the latest in a campaign of garda harassment in the run-up to next weekend's protests.

Dublin Grassroots Network spokesperson Laurence Cox said on Wednesday: "The police have already made major mistakes with their intimidatory approach to policing the Mayday weekend of events for an alternative Europe, and have been widely criticised for doing so [1]. Last night's arrests were unnecessary and will only serve to heighten tensions."

Spokesperson Liz Curry added: "Instead of allowing people to quietly occupy a criminally derelict building for use as an accommodation centre, the gardai have now created a situation where over a hundred protestors will be arriving in Dublin from abroad with nowhere to go [2]. These people have been forced out onto the streets of Dublin at night for a period of five days." [3]

The building in question has been derelict for years and is listed as such in Thom's Directory. Curry commented: "With rising homelessness and lengthening housing lists, the owners of derelict buildings are the real criminals that the gardai should be attending. Perfectly good buildings are allowed to fall into disrepair so that they can be demolished, and a small minority of big owners engage in property speculation while people are forced into paying extortionate amounts for housing."

The gardai also confiscated protective clothing from the accommodation centre. Spokesperson Aileen O'Carroll noted, "In the face of police and media hysteria, people have the right to protect their bodies in whatever way they feel necessary, in a context where live rounds, rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas are being deployed to suppress dissent. After the televised attacks on protestors at May Day two years ago, is it any wonder that protestors feel the need for protective clothing?"

Dublin Grassroots Network called on the state and Gardai to cease the harassment of visiting activists [4]. O'Carroll said, "They have every right to come to Dublin and engage in meaningful protest against the policies of Fortress Europe. They require a space to sleep. Any future space provided for protesters must be left alone, for practical reasons. Nobody wants to see visitors wandering the streets at night. The gardai must not repeat a similar mistake."

The spokespeople noted that the gardai have a constitutional obligation to facilitate peaceful protest. "Unfortunately the indications are that those responsible for the gardai have instructed them to do everything possible to prevent people exercising their right to protest", said Cox. "Once again we are calling for a low-key policing strategy and a lowering of tensions."

-- FOOTNOTES --

[1] This has been tacitly recognised in the way that various official spokespersons have sought in recent days to downplay numbers of police and protestors, talk of the need for calm etc., after weeks of hysteria in which many of the same individuals played a leading part.

[2] Routinely at anti-globalisation in Europe and elsewhere, municipal governments have provided accommodation for visiting protestors for practical reasons. This was the case for example in Florence for the European Social Forum, in Porto Alegre for the World Social Forum and even in Genoa for the G8 summit.

[3] Irish law on squatting of derelict buildings is a draconian relic of the 1970s which is out of step with most, if not all, other European jurisdictions, where public squats are an acknowledged part of the city landscape and often act as socio-cultural centres hosting films, gigs and other activities. Uniquely in Ireland, squatting is a felony.

[4] This kind of dirty tricks has been a recurrent feature of police preparations for this protest. Over the past two weeks, DGN leafletters were persistently harassed by gardai in breach of their constitutional rights. Over the past week, gardai have been visiting city-centre businesses and encouraging them to close for the weekend. Stories have subsequently appeared about the fears of business-owners with no mention of how those fears had been fueled.

For more information, including Mayday event plans, see: www.struggle.ws/eufortress