Attempt to criminalise protest overturned

Spokespeople for the Dublin Grassroots Network welcomed this afternoon's High Court decision, which overturned the District Court's refusal to grant bail to May Day protestors. Twelve men had been refused bail by Judge Coughlan in the District Court at Cloverhill this morning in connection with minor charges arising out of Saturday's protest march from O'Connell St. to the Phoenix Park.

Attempt to criminalise protest overturned

 


NEWS RELEASE Dublin Grassroots Network May 5, 2004 For immediate release

DISTRICT COURT'S ATTEMPT TO CRIMINALISE PROTEST OVERTURNED

May Day protest organisers welcome High Court granting of bail

Spokespeople for the Dublin Grassroots Network welcomed this afternoon's High Court decision, which overturned the District Court's refusal to grant bail to May Day protestors. Twelve men had been refused bail by Judge Coughlan in the District Court at Cloverhill this morning in connection with minor charges arising out of Saturday's protest march from O'Connell St. to the Phoenix Park.

Spokesperson Dr Laurence Cox said, "We saw people accused of assault on a Garda or intent to supply cocaine granted bail in the District Court while protestors were systematically refused it. The judge cited 'the seriousness of the offences' as a reason for refusing bail, in relation to minor charges such as breach of the peace and refusal to obey a Garda instruction. The High Court has clearly made the right decision in respect of these refusals."

DGN expressed concern over comments by Judge Coughlan in the District Court, which appeared to imply a presumption of guilt. In response to defence lawyers' requests for bail on grounds such as impending examinations, disability or the risk of losing employment, the judge repeatedly made comments such as: "He should have thought of that on Saturday night". Cox asked: "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?"

While others arrested on Saturday night were granted bail over the weekend, in practice the institutions concerned refused to accept bail until Tuesday. This follows a situation where those arrested were apparently unable to make their statutory phone call until Sunday, despite being arrested between 8.30pm and 10pm on Saturday evening.

Curry said: "We are seeing a wider pattern of the criminalisation of political dissent and the suspension of civil liberties, not just in Ireland but worldwide. May Day activists in Poland have been experiencing very similar repression. This is the brave new world of neo-liberalism: civil liberties can be suspended when the Government cites a 'security operation', while the reality is that Bertie Ahern wanted to avoid embarrassment to his guests, such as Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi, who are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Iraq."