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May Day organisers: government "inciting a riot"

category national | summit mobilisations | press release author Friday April 30, 2004 04:17author by Laurence Cox - Dublin Grassroots Networkauthor email lcox at iol dot ieauthor phone 087-9851029 Report this post to the editors

press release and dossier of "dirty tricks"

Dublin Grassroots Network has expressed concern that the government is attempting to incite a riot. This follows a pattern of harassment, misrepresentation and intimidation apparently designed to raise tensions in advance of May Day protests. DGN has raised particular concerns about the use of undercover policemen, who have a history of acting as agents provocateurs.

DGN has also released a dossier of "dirty tricks" from the security forces and unscrupulous journalists.

Buying onions in Moore St. is now suspicious behaviour
PRESS RELEASE

Dublin Grassroots Network
April 29th, 2004

One of the groups organizing Mayday protests this weekend has expressed concern that the government are attempting to incite a riot. Dublin Grassroots Network said that Garda harassment of activists is designed to raise tensions in advance of the protest. Comments by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that protestors are “mindless hooligans” were intended to justify police attacks on demonstrators in advance, according to the network.

Laurence Cox of Dublin Grassroots Network said, “Over the past two weeks we have seen a sustained campaign of Garda harassment of people in our network, including stopping people distributing leaflets, visits by Special Branch detectives, and trailing activists through the streets of Dublin. On Tuesday, the Guards felt the need to stop two members of the network who had gone to Moore St. market to buy food. The excuse offered was that ‘onions could be used as missiles’.”

Speaking as DGN released a dossier of security and media “dirty tricks” (below), Cox said “Arrests of activists on Tuesday and detention of others on Wednesday mark a continuation of this ratcheting up of tensions, along with a constant drip-feed of misinformation, off-the-record briefings and straightforward misrepresentation to the media. Bertie’s comments this week, attacking protestors as such, make it clear that this strategy comes from the top level of the government.”

Aileen O’Carroll of DGN said “We are particularly concerned by media reports that up to 1,200 Gardai disguised as demonstrators intend in infiltrate our protests. The Gardai have admitted that Italian police have helped with their planning, but the Italian police force has a notorious record in using police officers disguised as demonstrators to instigate riots. The organizers of the Genoa G8 protests believe that police officers disguised as demonstrators started much of the Genoa rioting.

“After Genoa, individual police officers admitted not only that this had happened but also that petrol bombs had been planted by police during their violent raid on the indymedia centre when dozens were hospitalized. This is why 8 of the 9 enquires launched after Genoa were into police behavior. Perhaps the same Italian police responsible for these actions are the ones advising the Irish Gardai? Previous protests in Dublin when uniformed but unnumbered Gardai went on the rampage against peaceful protesters illustrate the very real danger here.”

Dublin Grassroots Network is hoping for see large and peaceful protests over the May weekend and has released detailed plans on its web site at www.geocities.com/eufortress stressing its peaceful intentions. By contrast, O’Carroll said, Garda plans were not officially released until yesterday despite weeks of hints, threats and misrepresentations of protestors.

O’Carroll said, “We believe that this strategy of advertising a riot originates in the government rather than the Gardai. Therefore, we are demanding the following guarantees from the Minister of Justice:

1. That no Gardai, foreign police or other parts of the Irish security forces will infiltrate any of the protests disguised as demonstrators.
2. That all security forces deployed to police protesters be in uniform with clearly visible individual identification numbers.
3. That the rules of engagement for the day be made publicly available so that everyone can know under what conditions the Gardai can use water cannon or guns against peaceful protesters.

These are reasonable requests. If the government is unable to give these guarantees, our suspicion that this unpopular government intends to incite a riot will strengthen. We ask the citizens of Dublin to turn out peacefully and in large numbers to prevent this happening.”

ENDS



DOSSIER OF “DIRTY TRICKS”

Introduction

We are releasing this dossier in order to place on record some of the police and media response to Dublin Grassroots Network. We set out openly our intention of organising peaceful protests in Dublin around the issues of Fortress Europe, privatisation, EU militarism and social justice. What we got was a sustained campaign of intimidation, dirty tricks and misrepresentation.

This dossier is a very brief list of events, all of which can be readily documented from obvious sources (media archive, Indymedia web page). We hope after the events to develop a more detailed history in order to hold those responsible to account. This will be all the more necessary if, as we fear at present, the Government is attempting to advertise a riot.


The security forces: “dirty tricks” and the militarisation of policing

Aisling Reidy of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties noted earlier this week that they were “ very concerned that gardai, through stories fed to the media, is [sic] trying to soften up public opinion for a show down, by talking of potential violence and well planned attacks by subversives”. She observed that the Garda Siochana is in fact legally obliged to allow and protect peaceful protests.
These comments do not appear to have been heard by senior levels of the security forces, or by the Minister for Justice. We have to ask who ultimately benefits from the climate of tension which such activities have created. Political responsibility certainly lies with an unpopular government which lost the last free vote on European affairs (the first vote on the Nice Treaty, which faced protests of 100,000 people last year over its support for war and which has been facing widespread direct action in response to its attempts to impose bin charges?


“Dirty tricks”: behaviour in bad faith

 Stated intention to use undercover police officers within demonstrations, despite the involvement of such officers in provocation at the G8 summit protests in Genoa (see http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/engEUR300122001!Open for a statement of Amnesty International’s concerns about the policing of Genoa)

 Encouraging businesses to shut over the weekend and feeding this story to the media as an example of spontaneous concerns (see http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64654 for minute of a meeting with the Assistant Commissioner and the City Centre Businessman’s Association as part of this strategy).

 Unfounded claims about plans for an “attack” on the Blanchardstown shopping centre

 Harassment of Dublin Grassroots door-to-door leafletters, despite their legal right to do so (see http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64499 for an eyewitness account)

 Stopping and questioning of activists after buying onions (!) in Moore St market (quote: “onions could be used as missiles”)

 Arrest and detention of 2 activists on Thursday morning for hours despite their possession of passports and bank cards to prove ID

 Videotaping of passengers arriving at Connolly from the Belfast train

 Refusal to grant permission for the Another Europe is Possible march (this decision has been appealed)

 Continuous generation of scare stories about “unrest” designed to justify the militarisation of policing, despite consistent lack of evidence.


The militarisation of policing

 The use of the army, armed gardai, rubber bullets / “non-lethal weaponry”, water cannon, razor wire etc. to police a peaceful protest

 Implication of “collective punishment” in comments such as those of Garda Complaints Board chief Gordon Holmes, which seem to suggest that if some protestors cause trouble, all deserve police violence (Examiner, 27.4.04)

 Discussion of temporary detention centres and the intimidatory clearing of a wing of Cloverhill prison for protestors

 The stated aim to prevent large groups of protestors gathering (Irish Times, 19.04.04; see also Harry Brown’s comments in the Evening Herald, 23.4.04)

 The closure of the Phoenix Park for the first time in its history

 Calls to suspend freedom of travel by Lord Mayor Royston Brady

This amounts to a virtual suspension of the constitution. We also note that the security forces are clearly acting in bad faith: if half of their allegations were justified, we would have expected charges to be brought against the organisers. Instead we have seen very few ministers or official spokespeople willing to appear in public, but widespread use of crime correspondents, ex-policemen, representatives of garda trade unions GRA and AGSI, “security consultants” etc. to represent the view of the security forces and ultimately of the Government.


Unscrupulous media: scare stories and silly stories

Harry Brown, in the Evening Herald (23.4.04), wrote that we have seen “some of the most atrocious journalism in living memory” around the May Day protests. We have seen widespread collusion between unsavoury elements of the security forces (quoted as “garda source”, “security sources” etc.) and lazy journalists out for a quick sensation at the expense of the truth. (There have also been some excellent, and brave, pieces of fair reporting in the face of a “moral panic” about the protests.)

Again, we have to ask who benefits from ignoring the key issues the protests are focussing on – “Fortress Europe”, privatisation, militarisation and social injustice – and from reducing all the events of a complex weekend down to a single march. We leave the answer to this particular conundrum up to the specialists in media studies, and to the honest colleagues of those who have treated political protest as a way to fill column pages.


Scare stories

 The Irish Sun, on Saturday 24.4.04, ran a front-page article (backed up by almost a page inside) on a supposed gas scare from anarchists. What the article did not mention was that it would be sufficient to make such a warning to enable its supposed targets (EU heads of state at Farmleigh) to be provided with gas masks…

 The Star claimed to have “infiltrated” a “secret meeting”, which was in fact an open meeting of the London WOMBLES. The photos accompanying the article show the words “Dublin Mayday” chalked on the door, as well as a more extensive chalked sign and a leaflet taped to the door. Challenged on this on the Late Late Show (23.4.04), the author of the article failed to defend himself.
 Irish activists were the subjects of personalised smears in Ireland on Sunday on 8.2.04 and 25.4.04. See http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=63361&comment_id=61453#comment61453 for details of how the journalist writing the first article behaved while “infiltrating” another supposedly secret meeting.

 One activist received an anonymous phone call offering “guns and explosives” just minutes before her phone rang with a reporter from the Star, asking if DGN had been in contact with groups planning violence. Details on http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64274&topic=mayday2004&results_offset=60).

 Consistent libelling and misrepresentation of the British-based WOMBLES organisation (see www.wombles.org.uk for more accurate versions).


Silly stories and wrong ones

 Persistent claims in the early weeks of April that implausible numbers of activists would come to Dublin from abroad. Figures of 15,000 to 20,000 were routinely given.
 Stories on 4.4.04 where Ireland on Sunday claimed that “anarchists” had “stockpiles of weapons” and the News of the World spoke of a “secret army” which was apparently plotting a “bloodbath”.

 Consistent misrepresentation of the events of May Day 2002 in Dublin (actually May 6th), where gardai were filmed (and the film was shown on national television) attacking a peaceful Reclaim the Streets party.

 Consistent misrepresentation of the facts of the G8 protests at Genoa, where protestor Carlo Giuliani was killed by police, hundreds of protestors were beaten in custody, and there were a series of judicial investigations into the behaviour of the Italian police force.

As a number of saner voices have commented recently, such behaviour involves those media who engage in it in advertising a riot. It raises tensions among protestors and police alike. We believe that poor-quality reporting, by consistently focussing on the hypothetical (or invented) possibility of violence, will bear a real responsibility for potential incidents this May Day weekend.

Dublin Grassroots Network
29.4.04

Related Link: http://www.geocities.com/eufortress
author by buendia - CANpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congratulations to you guys for keeping up with the ridiculous media frenzy, and for putting together such clear and focussed responses to it. All too often it seems that activists are grumblingly prepared to accept media misrepresentation as part of their lot, but you guys seem to be showing the way in how to tackle it and at least try to put them on the back foot with a crystal clear refutation of their hype, myth & lies. Well done!

author by Homerpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've notice a distinctly anti-British sentiment to the news stories. The idea of middle-class young English people coming here with a view to goad the Gardai and some who have expressed a willingness to do property damage (what's with the Wombles' slogan of "Fuck Shit Up"?), doesn't sit well with your average Dubliner.

On the other hand, the organisers of the protest have failed to convince the press of their intended peaceful deomnstrations, mainly because they haven't been coherent enough to outright condemn any violent behaviour by their own number (choosing instead to come out with the ridiculous line of... "well, if there IS violence no doubt it'll be started by the gardai").

The place is going to be full of cameras. Whoever starts anything, the evidence will be there. The organisers had nothing to lose by condemning any violent actions and giving a convincing call for their not to be any such behaviour done in their name.

Anyway, hope it goes well, I'll have to travel up early tomorrow morn to make it. Best of luck to all!

author by MGpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cops have been streaming into Croke Park since early this morning. Loads of Dublin Bus buses parked in residential streets in the area disgorging coppers and vans parked in grounds of Clonliffe College. The ones I saw were in normal uniform but all were carrying riot helmets. I assume a training or briefing session is going on in Croker.

Last night at about 8pm there was a work crew beavering away putting up steel shutters on the police station on O Connell Street, there has always been just glass windows there before. That station is no more than a motoring fines office and a rescue point for lost tourists, there are no custody cells or such. Sorry I did not get a pic, but was gone past on the bus before I realised what was going on.

author by Gerrypublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Would you not agree they have a very realistic fear that someone was going to smash the windows MO, rather than preparing it for some insidious purpose, as you insinuate?

author by MGpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 12:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I did not 'insinuate' anything. I was making the point that it is over the top to be putting up shuttering on the place. This was never necessary before and given the amount of mayhem they try to convince us takes place on O Connell street every night then surely someone would have put a brick through it by now?

author by Gerrypublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You honestly believe the chances of someone bricking the window aren't heightened? Don't be so naive. Also, on any Friday night the cops could arrest someone who attpeted to break the windo... during a march, I guess it would be preferable for them to just prevent the window being broken and not have to arrest someone in a hostile crowd.

Honestly, these last few days in Dublin, from what I've seen, the Gardai (while still over-blowing the issue) have been vindicated in their estimation of the numbers and intent of the crowd looking to cause mayhem.

Just look at the instance reported here... journalists being intimidated at the IMC, Wombles slogans (Fuck shit up) being spray painted all over the city.... at this point, the groups involved in this march could be irreparably damaged by the violent hooliganism of a few!

author by fat people are hard to kidnappublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Slogans being sprayed, an argument with a journo!

these are indeed terrifying

I'd say the windows have slightly more chance of being put in on a normal boozey week end in Dublin!

author by Joepublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 13:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

NewsTalk reporting that army are sending '4 tanks and 12 APC's in case violence breaks out'. Tanks?!?!?!

author by Homerpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 13:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish army have no tanks!

author by Joepublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 13:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Although I think as part of 'updating' to be compatable with the Euroarmy/NATO they may got a few.

author by Ruairipublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Defence Forces have Skorpion tanks, very small. They do however have fully armed MOWAG APC's, a seriously impressive piece of equipment. The Mowag has a 10mm cannon and a variety of launchers for rockets, grenades etc which can also be modified for tear gas, dispersal tactics etc. The MOWAG is something which should be avoided.

Either way, u most likely won't get to see one, the Defence Forces will not be deployed unless there is unrest of a very, very serious nature. IF there is a need for them, I for one will be very glad to have such a professional and disciplined force at the service of the state's citizens and assets.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 14:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Wonder why this hasn't been brought up before?

author by Joepublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

NewsTalk carried a correction from the army saying the tanks/APCs were just being used in Baldonnel BUT that some APCs are on duty for 'traffic control' (huh!)

author by Fergalpublication date Fri Apr 30, 2004 16:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Using an Army to police its citizens breaches the constitution"

No it doesn't

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