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The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

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Human Rights in Ireland
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Occupy accuse Gardai of political policing on 1st anniversary

category galway | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Tuesday October 16, 2012 12:41author by Anonymous - Occupy Galwayauthor email info at occupygalway dot ie Report this post to the editors

Occupy Galway anniversary assembly disrupted by Gardai: Yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of the establishment of the Occupy movement in Galway. Between the Lisbrook house refugee eviction protest, the hearing of a spurious courtcase against two occupiers for "chalking", a subsequent spontaneous "chalking" reunion in the square and some heavy handed police action, it was not uneventful! ;-)


Occupy accuse Gardai of political policing on 1st anniversary

Yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of the establishment of the Occupy movement in Galway. This people’s movement began with Occupy Wall St. on September 17th 2011 and within weeks had spread to over 2600 towns and cities in almost 80 countries worldwide.

The movement, based on the ideals of economic justice, real participatory democracy and equality of all people, saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in every major world city. The Occupy camps, which were established in public spaces in Galway, Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, provided a space for the public to share and discuss information about the state of the country and the alternatives to the current political, economic and social system.

In countries like Spain and Portugal popular movements have brought millions of people onto the streets in protest at economic crisis and resist the governments attempts to enforce more pain on their people.

The day began at 11am with an assembly and march from Eyre Square to TD Brian Walsh’s office in support of the residence of Lisbrook House Asylum Centre and to protest the imminent closure of the centre and relocation of it’s almost 300 residents.

As if by fate, the same day, two members of the occupy movement appeared in Galway District Court on charges of criminal damage to part of Eyre Square for "writing on a wall with chalk". The incident took place on the morning of the 16th of May, a few hours after Gardai and Galway City Council workers destroyed the Galway camp in the middle of the night.

The charges were withdrawn by the DPP due to lack of evidence and Judge Mary Fahy seemed amused at the affair stating that no one in this county was in danger of going to jail for the use of chalk as a 2 year old could wipe it off.

After news of the court case spread a crowd began to gather in Eyre Square, someone brought chalk and members of the public, both young and old began to chalk on the square. A tent was set up as a symbolic gesture but before long around a dozen Gardai arrived and broke up the peaceful assembly of about 50 to 60 people and confiscated the tent.

A short time later 3 Galway city council workers arrived to power hose the chalk away, despite the heavy rain, the judge’s earlier remarks and offers to clean the chalk by a member of the assembly. The response of the Gardai and Galway city council was disproportionate and an obvious waste of resources. The actions of the Gardai further demonstrate the state’s policy of political policing, intimidation, suppression and criminalisation of political movements and normal people who object to the government policy such as the actions taken against the Occupy camps, Galway Alliance Against War and the decade long campaign against local people in North Mayo.

Video taken of the day’s events shows the heavy handed policing towards people who were simply exercising their constitutional rights on the square and writing a few messages in chalk, a "non crime" according to Judge Mary Fahy.

The Occupy movement is alive and well in Galway and will not be intimidated by such tactics and we will not go away. We will not be bullied, the truth is on our side. In Galway and across the country, people are organizing and resisting the government cuts and taxes. Only with a healthy democracy, with fairness, openness, involvement and inclusion as its guiding principles will we be able to make the change needed. Everyone must willingly accept to participate, we are all free.

author by Occupypublication date Tue Oct 16, 2012 18:02Report this post to the editors

"Well I can assure you he wasn't at risk because I don't think I would ever send someone to jail for writing with chalk on a wall, that was the alleged charge, chalk can be moved, can be rubbed off by a two year old child and common sense has to come into this so I'm refusing legal aid and I've given the reasons why. There was never ever in my view a chance that anyone would go to jail in this country for writing with chalk and thats my view and certainly while I'm sitting here. Now thats not to say that I'm encouraging everyone to go out and start writing with chalk on the walls."

- Reply from Judge Mary Fahy to defendants barrister

author by serfpublication date Tue Oct 16, 2012 23:12Report this post to the editors

in my view, this had little to do with getting a conviction and jail time and everything to do with harassing activists using the gardai and the legal system and just generally wearing them down.

Jails are expensive to run and that's money they could be stealing or giving to their rich bankster / corporate friends

Political policing is not necessarily about putting you in jail. Just wearing you down, stopping you protesting and shutting you up.

From that perspective, this case; which I believe, was postponed twice before finally being thrown out; was yet another success for the state. It harassed activists, stressed them out, wasted their time and drained their energy, yet it costs a lot less to do all this a few times to someone than to put them in prison.

 
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