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You can be arrested for visiting a book shop!

category antrim | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday October 06, 2005 18:09author by Seamus O Raghallaighauthor address Oslo, Norway Report this post to the editors

Irish facism in action

An personal encounter with the Irish version of the Stasi- the special branch of an Garda Siochana.

Last Wednesday (5th Oct.) I decided to go into the Sinn Fein Phoblachta book shop at 223 Parnell Square (just down from the UCI cinema at the junction with Capel Street).
It was unplanned and spur of the moment. I look in the shop window and though it would be interesting to see what they had for sale. As I am also very interested in 1798 books and memorabilia I though this could be a good place to find more obscure publications that are hard to find in main stream book shops (Easons etc).

Anyway, I went in and browsed for a while and discovered a 1798 old song book which I was delighted to find. I had a chat with a nice lady there, Josephine, and discussed Wolfe Tone and the 1798 rebellion.

I then left with my books and had walked about 200m towards the cinema when an middle aged white/grey haired man in what I would describe as a flashers trench coat, approached me at a slight run. Stop he said and flashed out his gold garda badge. Here we go I though, should have know this would happen. He then asked me in an aggressive tone what my name was and where I lived. I was stunned frankly and replied that I wanted to know why he was requesting this from me. This wasnt what he expected I think, as his tone suddenly got more menacing. He said that I was seen coming out of the Sinn Fein office and wanted to know what I was doing there. I said I went in to buy some books thats all. Let me see he demanded. Hang on I said this is intimidation; I have a right to visit any book shop I want without this kind of abuse. Its not intimidation, he replied, and said that they are terrorists in that shop. Oh? I was under the impression that Sinn Fein Phoblachta was a legal political party I replied. No, he said, they arent legal.
This made me realize this guy was talking rubbish, which irritated me no end. I felt like asking him why the shop was open and allowed if they were illegal, surely the shop would have been closed long ago. I then said that my wife and child were waiting to collect me and that I need to go. He then threatened me by saying that they would be waiting 24hrs as he was going to arrest me under the offences against the state act that he and could hold me for 24hrs if I didnt show him what I bought and give my name and address. Now I wasnt sure if this was true or not, but I didnt relish being arrested for a day for simply going into a book shop. I gave him my details and he then let me on my way. Does anyone know if this act allows citizens to be detained for 24hrs for not giving their details? Is this the type of fascist state we now live in Eire? If you go to the wrong book shop you will be stopped by the secretthought police aka the special branch. I though this ended with the fall of soviet style communism. I naively thought I had political freedom to visit the premises of any political party without fear of intimidation. Sad sad sad.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Thu Oct 06, 2005 18:22Report this post to the editors

It'd be interesting if you could publish them here. On a related note, I'd spend a lot of time examining people's badges/credentials. Some time ago I watched a man breaking into a car on a busy Dublin street at about 11pm. I approached him and told him that I'd called the Gardai and was going to restrain him until they arrived. He flashed out a little official looking badge and said he was a Garda and was removing a nuisance car that had been reported abandoned by local businesses. About 5 minutes later I realised that I was an idiot because I had no idea what an official badge looked like and why would a non-uniformed Garda be doing that stuff? Admittedly it was coupled with my innate desire to avoid getting into it with him, but still I felt like some old person that let the "meter reader" into the house. He was long gone by then.

author by pat cpublication date Thu Oct 06, 2005 18:40Report this post to the editors

I remember the days when the same would happen if you visited the SF bookshop in 44 parnell Sq. Haven't been there for a while. Do the Branch still hassle visitors?

author by Mick S.publication date Thu Oct 06, 2005 18:54Report this post to the editors

I was stopped coming out of the very same place years ago , a virtually identical experience too . Afterwards I noticed I was being tailed to and from my own place of work as well . I have never commited any crime yet this surveillance went on for about 6 months until I moved abroad . They never spoke to me , just followed me about . I found it quite intimidating and was glad of the opportunity to leave the country . It left me severely worried and depressed come to think of it . Hardened terrorits Im surelaugh about such things but to the ordinary citizen its very intimidating . And the book I was looking for wasnt even there !!

Garda Special branch are a law unto themselves . They epitomise everything thats wrong with the Irish state in my opinion . Scum of the earth .

author by Niall Harnettpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:20Report this post to the editors

Don't ever give your name to any fucker with or without a uniform or badge who stops you for no reason in the street. Be clear in your own mind as to why you're being stopped, call a witness and ask the questions like you did... Why do you want my name? Why are you stopping me? etc.

Read Article 40 of the Irish Constitution and act on it.

author by Davidpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 13:47Report this post to the editors

These pricks are on a power rush. If you refuse to give them your name and adress they will arrest you (although later they'll say they didn't arrest you despite the handcuffs and jail cell).
All you can do is, upon release demand to know the name and badge number of the arresting officer, get them to write it down for you and then file a complaint against him or her.

author by eeekkkkkpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 14:36Report this post to the editors

anyone and everyone passing shop from now on should go in - have a peek around and leave. Do it in groups on a satterday.

If they kept all under surveillance think of the branch hours wasted.

As for the sf bookshop. The only peope stopping customers on the street when they leave there are the staff :-)

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 14:38Report this post to the editors

As far as I know, gardai are only allowed ask you two questions ie: your name and address. Now if they have suspicions that you are or have been involved in any illegal activity, they can arrest you. The Sinn Fein book shop is a legitimate shop, they are not breaking any law selling books and obviously you weren't either by going inside.
It is a good idea to get a witness before you decide to refuse to answer any further questions apart from your name and address. You may or may not be surprised at the willingnesss of the public to offer assisitance.
After giving your name and address in this situation -as far as I know- you where quite within your rights to walk away and go about your business. It is always a good idea to note down the offending bastards name and report it to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. You should contact them and they will let you know the law.
As far as being a fascist state, well if you call a country where the police are literally getting away with murder -amongst other things- and they area 'law' unto themselves, well then yes, this is a fascist state.
Even all bad things come to an end!

author by amokpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 17:59Report this post to the editors

it isn't only the SF types that get hassle, us anarchos are under ridiculous levels of surveillance. at the anarchist picnic in May we were filmed for about half an hour by some dickhead on a horse. at one Dissent gig there were some obvious cops as well as some suspect chaps at other meetings. it's only likely to increase for us but there's not a huge amount that we can do without compromising our ideals of openness etc.
it's almost as if we wanted to smash the state or something.

author by out of print - & remainder copiespublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 18:00Report this post to the editors

you are the finest minor intellectuals we have, always ready to pass a comment. Next time you goto Dublin, walk around parnell square.
You'll find lots there. 2 buildings belong to SF their paper and their bookshop, and then there's the teachers club where the anarchists meet, and a few smaller trade unions, a maternity hospital, a presbytarian church, a few pubs, hotels and one empty building the people who put the dissent into grass roots (or the grass roots into dissent) squated for a while a few years ago to highlight the housing crises in Dublin.
There is alas no Josephine answering queries about the Stassi, WolfeTone or 1798 in Parnell square. If these comments are indicative of how "you read" information on any page, and how you "ignore" little details like "adresses" then none of you are credible commentators anymore, do be careful come next April 1st.

author by Chekovpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 19:25Report this post to the editors

Writing 'square' instead of 'street' in an address doesn't impact upon the credibility of a particular article, particularly when the author describes the location of the building correctly. It is a common class of typo / malpraxis and is not useful for estimating the credibility of the content.

The story seems perfectly credible to me too. It is well known that the gardai keep dissident republicans under close surveillance. It is also well known that the gardai always used to keep the SF bookshop under close scrutiny and frequently stopped people coming out of it to ask their address. I know for a fact that they even used to call around to talk to the parents of young people seen coming out of the shinner bookshop.

author by typicalpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 20:09Report this post to the editors

This article has a bit of an extra kick when read with the bicycle theft article, the book shop beside capel street is literally 10 seconds from the car park openly selling stolen bicycles. So there is a garda present in the area but he will only stop you for going into a bookshop but knowingly dealing with stolen property is just fine and dandy, but sure arent the authorities always telling us that such crime funds terrorism surely there is a contradiction in their pr here, its legally acceptable to commit an illegal act but legally suspect to act within your legal rights.

On a lighter note does has anyone seen that balls of steel program on channel 4 where one of the contestants has a game where he pretends to shoplift, gets spotted and is pursued by security, the object of the game is to reach a burger bar before being grabbed. I wonder if there could be some sort of similar league developed here for those who like their punishment seeing as how its a consistent occurance, like the ghetto games in 'i'm goin to git you sucka'. See you there

author by law-abidingpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 21:28Report this post to the editors

This is obiously an agressive marketing ploy, this "phoblacht sinn fein" shop is obviously located where it is, and named the way it is : to confuse tourists and those other Irish citizens on the odd weekend trip to Dublin.
How does the real Sinn Fein bookshop on Parnell Sq feel about this "Phoblacht" Sinn Fein bookshop on Parnell street?
How much hard needed cash are the Sinn Fein crowd losing out on the 1798 remainder and out of print postcard market?

Maybe you'll understand then, that I believe it wasn't a real stassi garda at all. It was probably just an out of work, gaiety actor using a rented garda trench coat and ID trying to intimidate the clientelle of a rival establishment.

"yet another of those stories that won't be told" of the seedy triangle of Dublin, which stretches from Monty in the east to the vintage ILAC shopping centre in the west "the bookshops" of the wee north and on the "eh" 4th side the Dail.

it sounds like a clear case of breach of registered trademark and intellectual property law to me.

I'd advise the writer of this fine piece of exposure, Mr Rahilililly to come back from Oslo and tell that josephine to change the name of the shop, and then check out the lane behind for plaques and bikes and little pipes improvised from water bottles which are burnt and smell of lemon.

author by Keerapublication date Fri Oct 07, 2005 22:38Report this post to the editors

Republican Sinn Fin ( Shinn Fin Poblachtach) is organised throughout the 32 Counties of Ireland with cumainn (branches) in England and Scotland and supporters in North America and Australia. Republican Sinn Fin's head office, Teach Dith Conaill (Dith Conaill House), is located at 223 Parnell St, Dublin 1 . It's Belfast office is 229 Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 6FB

author by A10publication date Sat Oct 08, 2005 03:10Report this post to the editors

Not being a great fan of Sin Fein,or some other political types here.But I am in favour of folks reading whatever they want,when ever they want,and not being hassled by "the Man" when they want to read it.

Any genuine plain clothes cop will only have a warrant card.THERE ARE NO OFFICAL BADGES in the warrent card.The card is appx 5in by 5in.It will have a pic of the Garda,in plainclothes,his rank,no and station.Also the Garda crest will be superimposed on this card,it is a greenish color.Anything else is FAKE! Also you are entitled to read the details,they cant do a quick flip and replace in a sports jacket inner pocket.If they refuse to show it or allow you to see and note the details walk away.
Also remember that it is an offence to impersonate a Garda ,so if they continue the bluff,you are entitled to ask them to accompany you to a uniformed garda to verify their ID.

author by jeezpublication date Sat Oct 08, 2005 03:33Report this post to the editors

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has told an Oireachtas committee that criminal gangs and terrorist groups are selling counterfeit DVDs and CDs, and are a danger to society. He urged the industry to offer substantial rewards for information about those making and selling forged goods.

Related Link:
author by tompublication date Sat Oct 08, 2005 04:08Report this post to the editors

where else is good for decent books in dublin?

author by RSF is Sinn Finpublication date Sun Oct 09, 2005 04:05Report this post to the editors

In response to "law-abiding":

Sinn Fin Poblachtach (Republican Sinn Fin) is the Sinn Fin organisation. Several members expelled themselves from the organisation in 1986 by acting in breach of the Constitution of Sinn Fin. Those who remained within the Sinn Fin organisation resumed the Ard-Fheis at another venue.

The Republican prefix was used for clarity in the media. Republican Sinn Fin - and Republican Sinn Fin alone - are entitled to use the proud and historic name of Sinn Fin. The Provos are using the name entirely without authorisation.

The President of Sinn Fin is Ruair Brdaigh. The true Sinn Fin forms part of the true Republican Movement.

author by John O'Driscollpublication date Sun Oct 09, 2005 14:12author address PR ChinaReport this post to the editors

The old Connolly Bookstore in Temple Bar was always good for an interesting rummage. You could come up with anything. Remember finding a lovely copy of Lao T'zu's collected writings there once. Some good stuff on the Williamite Wars and some useful local history.

For a laugh as well I remember picking up some of Mao's dissertations on economic thought (hilarious and an excellent soporific). Don't let the "Irish Communist Party Headquarters" association put you off in the least. Solid dacent oul' Dublin gentlemen are Eugene and his colleagues, not proselytisers in the least and delighted to chat about any subject under the sun (and obviously, socialism and Irish history and language). I haven't been back for a few years. Hope it's still the same. They used have tea and sandwiches and a natter for anyone that wanted to drop in on a Wednesday.

author by seedotpublication date Sun Oct 09, 2005 14:20Report this post to the editors

They've moved now across the river to one of Mick Wallaces "Italian quarter" units while the premises on Essex street is getting done up. Seem to have a smaller range but this may be because the passing trade has improved hugely - Cappucinos and Gramsci on the Northside.

Still endearingly amateur.

author by Seamus O Raghallaighpublication date Tue Oct 11, 2005 13:45Report this post to the editors

Thanks to all above for the comments especially the one from Mick S about how he felt after he was put under the cosh from the s. branch, similar how I felt. Was really angry and pissed off for several days afterwards. And as for writing Square instead of street, that was a typo as Chekov kindly pointed out. You dont have to believe me but its a true experience. Go down and visit the shop and see what happens to you when you come out.

As for A10 regarding the warrent card, you are wrong to say they dont have a badge. I was stopped 3 years ago by the branch while trying to climb the wellington momument in the park with a view to placing a banner on it (Im a mountaineer in my free time). The two branch guys had the same gold garda badges, about the size of a wristwatch.

Next time the stasi stop me I will be sure to just give my name and address and that will be all. Im off to check article 40 of the constitution now, and to look at the ICCL site.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leor.

author by publication date Tue Oct 11, 2005 14:41Report this post to the editors

Red Ink bookshop on fownes st. beside the central bank.

author by Barrypublication date Tue Oct 11, 2005 15:14Report this post to the editors

They can quote the drugs act at you and then do pretty much anything they want . They can arrest you on the spot for non co-operation .

Another one , if you give them lip is to wait till your coming out of a pub and then abuse you , which meas they can batter you as well as lift you on the spot for drunk and disorderly .

Oh dont forget , they can just get their superintendent to say your a member of an illegal organisation as well . They dont need any evidence , just his opinion . Internment by the back door .

At present there are Irish citizens in jail on 7 year sentences for possession (allegedly) of a wreath , one pensioner is in for a chair leg in his back yard (could be used for a grenade !) . A number of men who met openly in a hotel bar to organise a prisoners social ( which they hoped to hold in the same bar) were arrested in the bar and jailed for membership . The branch said it was an IRA meeting (in broad daylight in a busy hotel bar) so the judges ( 3 no less) kindly obliged and gave them seven years apiece .

The branch are a law unto themselves . Once they enter the frame you have no legal rights worth speaking of

author by Micel Mac Ter - Cairde Shinn Finpublication date Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:22author email cameron.tyre at online dot ieReport this post to the editors

A chara,

Some of my mates have in the past visited the SF book shop at 44 Parnell Square then, on their return to Scotland, were stopped by the Harbour Police and had their bags tipped out on the quayside. They were TOLD, "You were in the Sinn Fin Shop in Dublin!", then asked, "Why?"

As far as I am concerned, whilst most ordinary Garda officers "on the beat" are just trying to make a living and uphold the law, Special Branch are part of a "blue shirt" conspriacy stretching back to before partition. I'd say the following groups are part of it:
An Garda Sochnna Special Branch
British MI5/MI6
British London Metropolitan Police Special Branch
Whatever British Special Branches cover the ports for Ireland in Wales, England and Scotland
The Westminster Government
The 26 County Government

Basically the Harbour Police in Troon said they had photographs of my mates going into the SF shop in Dublin so that is direct evidence and proof of collusion between at least two of the above, probably arranged and facilitated by the two Governments listed above.

Note I don't include the RUC/PSNI Special Branch in the above list. That's because they are in their own axis of evil collusion with MI5/British MOD/FRU/UDA/UVF etc..

I just order my SF bookshop stuff via the Internet. If the securocrats and Brit occupiers want to waste their time looking through my mail before it arrives at my door I couldn't care less. Perhaps that's why MI5's budget doubled this year for their "Irish operations".

I've no doubt that An Garda Sochnna Special Branch thought they had their bases covered with Provisional Sinn Fin but now there is Republican Sinn Fin I think it must be that, going by your description of the "flasher mac gard", they are flipping their lid a bit. Maybe they don't have the huge budget that the British MI5 has or just that now there are "more of THEM to watch" they have less time to sit in the guardroom and drink tea?

Maybe these so called "Irishmen" should have a wee think about the 26 County State they live in. Imperfect though it may be it was created by a force called the Irish Republican Army and by naked Republicanism. How easy to sweep that truth under the carpet and kid on you're living in a mini-Britain with a different flag?

rin go brgh!


author by Cathal Brughapublication date Sun Dec 15, 2013 21:28Report this post to the editors


After reading this article I was very pissed off about it for a good few days afterwards. I also went to the Sinn Fein Shop and talked to one of the shopkeepers on the rota, and he told me that the Guards DO sit outside the RSF Shop and harass those who enter.
I did some Googling and came up with this:

1. Go in to the RSF shop
2. Have a look around, buy a couple of things, maybe, if you want.
3. When you leave, have a good look around outside, but try not to look shifty.
4. If you're stopped, follow these simple steps, it's your right:

"The police can also stop and search you or your vehicle if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you are a terrorist. But they do not need reasonable grounds if they have been given permission to carry out searches in a particular area.

But the police do not have the right to stop and search you just because of your race or religious background.

When the police stop and search you, they must provide you with the following information before the search can begin:

proof of their warrant card
information on police powers to stop and search
information on your rights
the police officer's name and police station
the reason for the search
what they think they might find when they search you.

The police can stop and search any person, vehicle, and anything in or on the vehicle for certain items. However, before they stop and search they must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find:

stolen goods, or
drugs, or
an offensive weapon, or
any article made or adapted for use in certain offences, for example a burglary or theft, or
knives, or
items which could damage or destroy property, for example spray paint cans."

Now, Article 40 of the Irish Constitution states (in part):

"6.1. The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality:
The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

So, really, if you quote all that stuff, the fuckers will probably back off or try and arrest you for non co-operation.

Happy shopping. TAL!

Related Link:
author by Bookwormpublication date Mon Dec 16, 2013 07:59Report this post to the editors

The one thing is to avoid big bookchains like Easons and Waterstones. So where can we go for books to fill the christmas stockings of our children and partners? Connolly Books (formerly New Books) has apparently moved from Essex Street near the Project Arts Centre. Then the anarchists have their outlet in Fownes Street. Please, as a christmas sock project, could some knowledgeable readers provide lists of useful bookshops in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and anywhere else?

Books Upstairs is opposite the entrance to Trinity College and has lots of radical and mainstream books and mags.

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