Political Policing, Cork Protests and Misguided Kerrymen

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For the third morning in a row we awoke to the news that there had been a further four arrests in relation to the peaceful act of mass civil disobedience in Jobstown last November when Joan “Hide Your Phone” Burton was kept waiting around in her car for a few hours. This is obviously a well co-ordinated and highly politically motivated series of arrests, where each morning four citizens have been taken from their homes to numerous Dublin Garda stations for questioning in relation to the alleged “false imprisonment” of Burton. These arrests mount to political policing and serve only one purpose; to cause maximum damage to the growing anti-water charges movement and to quell to wider anti-establishment feeling growing in society. Now some will argue that policing in a capitalist society is inherently political and that singling out such events as political policing detracts from the wider issue, but that’s a debate for another day. Right now I’ll stay on ground level and deal with these events from the perspective of one working-class anti-water charge protestor and leave the dialectical analysis for the indoctrinated Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist-Stalinist-Maoists out there. Christ, that’s a mouthful!

The fact that the initial arrests on Monday were of four well-known political activists, including a TD and two councillors from the Anti Austerity Alliance/Socialist Party, clearly shows the political nature of these arrests. Furthermore, the fact that so much Garda resources have gone into the “investigation” surrounding the protest in Jobstown and the arrests that followed shows that the State places a much higher priority on criminalising our movement than on pursuing the criminals that have indebted the people of Ireland for generations to come.

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It’s one law for the rich, and one law for the poor. For a bit of clarity, consider this; Scott Masterson, the éirígí member and community activist from Tallaght who was the fourth person arrested on Monday, apparently posed such a threat that up to a dozen cops arrived at his home in five vehicles for his arrest. At the time Scott was the only adult in the house with his two young children and as a result his partner had to leave work while Scott was brought to Tallaght Garda station, causing maximum disruption to the young family keeping the two adults out of work and the two children out of school. On the flip-side, for example, former Fianna Fáil councillor Gary O’Flynn who pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of a Detective Garda, a Revenue Commissioner and an accountant, was arrested by appointment, whereby he had prior knowledge of the time and place of his arrest to spare him of any undue disruption. Just to state, Gary is the son of former long-standing Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn. I repeat; one law for the rich and one law for the poor.

Those who have been involved in what the State would describe as “subversive politics” prior to the anti-water charges movement will know only too well of the political policing which is carried out against anyone or any group that would dare question the legitimacy of the two States in Ireland and the decisions they make. Whether it is Gardaí threatening female protestors with rape in Rossport, Gardaí antagonistically attending the funeral of veteran republicans in full riot gear or the court injunctions against water charge protestors prohibiting them from coming within twenty meters of meter installations, it is quite clear that the fat cats that run our country are more than willing to use the institutions of the State to bully and harass those that dare question their rule. But that is the nature of our State, which has always put the interests of the elite minority ahead of the masses. This State has always used the Gardaí and the courts to suppress any dissent, and will continue to do so. The anti-water charges movement is possibly the most significant movement to arise in opposition to this corrupt State for generations and has the potential to cause serious and seismic shockwaves throughout Ireland and beyond. It has the potential to instigate a movement for real social equality, and that is because it is a genuine mass-movement lead primarily by community groups and ordinary people. And that is why the State fears us so much.

That is why the Gardaí are arresting fourteen and sixteen year olds. That is why they are arresting elected representatives. That is why they are trying so hard to create division among the protestors by proliferating the lie that a sinister fringe is active among the ranks or that “dissident republicans” have hijacked the campaign. They fear the risen people, and they are ready fight dirty to hold on to what they have. Which is why we must remain steadfast in our campaign of opposition to the water-charges and austerity, and the neo-liberal agenda in general.

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As a result of this weeks arrests a protest has been called for tomorrow evening outside the Department of Justice & Equality to highlight the political nature of these arrests and to defend our right to protest. To coincide with this a number of similar protests are taking place around Cork tomorrow evening also. There will be a protest at 18.30 outside the Garda headquarters on Anlgesea St which is being organised by the Mahon Says No community group. Cobh Says No are also organisng a protest for the same time outside of the Garda station in the town, and likewise Midleton Against Irish Water have called for a similar protest outside the cop shop in their town. Anyone that is able should try to attend one of these protests.

To finish up on a separate yet related subject, it is quite disheartening to read that Right2Water campaigners in Kerry are actively promoting the lie that troublemakers are hijacking the protests and the campaign. An organiser of a protest in Killarney against the presence of the Labour Party was quoted as saying; “Troublemakers are not welcome and will be isolated and handed over to the gardaí. Members of Right2Water Kerry have always had peaceful protests and will continue to have peaceful, colourful protests…”. Such comments coming in the same week that the propaganda war against peaceful protestors has lead to twelve arrests can only be described as ill-thought out at best, and collaborationist at worst! Wise up!

Lar Ó Tuama

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