NewsTalk 106's Kathy Sheridan interviews Jim Cusack of the Sunday Independent and Indymedia.ie's Chekov Feeney about the Dublin Riots
What follows is a transcript of the exchange that took place.
• Kathy Sheridan, NewsTalk 106
• Jim Cusack, Sunday Independent
• Chekov Feeney, one of Indymedia Ireland
Listen for yourself: dublin_riot_newstalk_106_march_1_06.mp3
NewsTalk106: We're back to the Breakfast Show on NewsTalk 106 where the time is 23 minutes past 7. And we return again to last Saturday's Dublin Riots where recriminations continue to rumble
We are joined by Jim, Jim Cusack, a freelance journalist for the Sunday Independent, and Chekov Feeney an Indymedia editor for their considered take on who or what contributed to the mayhem.
But first have a listen to what was said yesterday in the Dáil:
Voice of Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern: There is proof that it was organised, in my view, Ceann Comhairle, is that you don't move from the Parnell Monument to the far side of town in a matter of minutes unless somebody is calling the shots.
Voice of Justice Minister, Michael McDowell: …that Republican Sinn Féin actually declined to engage in a meaningful manner with an Garda Siochána who were preparing to police the demonstration; or to give any advance information as to their intentions in carrying out their counter-protest. On any view, that non-cooperation was despicable.
NewsTalk106: Jim, Jim Cusack, does that tally with your view of events now?
Jim Cusack: uh, what, the eh...
NewsTalk106: What Bertie had to say...
Jim Cusack: No, it doesn't really, no, no it was a cock-up by the Garda management basically and they just weren't paying attention to what was going on. They didn't know what was going on, so they weren't ready…and they allowed it to happen.
NewsTalk106: On the other hand Bertie Ahern listed 3 superintendents, 10 inspectors, 23 sergeants, over 300 Gardaí, air support units, dog units, 58 detectives for 350 demonstrators - how could they have got it so wrong?
Jim Cusack: There was more than a thousand people involved in that riot. And, Gerry O'Carroll wrote in the Herald the other day it was Lions led by Donkies. To coin the phrase from the First World War.
It was let get outa hand completely - they had no idea - they weren't interested in what was going on and the thing about it was...
NewsTalk106: Jim, what do you mean they weren't interested?
Jim Cusack: Just, they weren't up to it. They really weren't focused on what was being prepared – and it wasn't a riot against that little march. Incidentally, it wasn't a Loyalist March or it wasn't a... these are people, these are families of victims...(of the IRA)…
NewsTalk106: We'll get back to that in a moment, Jim. Chekov Feeney is in the studio, as you know...
Jim Cusack: There was a small... 100 or 200 people who marched down
O'Connell Street and over to the Dáil.
NewsTalk106: Yes, yes but, yes...
Jim Cusack: And they... the Gards got it completely wrong, and it wasn't the Gards on the ground it was the Garda management. They didn't plough resources at all; they just didn't manage that situation at all. And, as I say, they’re incapable of doing it, by the look of it.
NewsTalk106: Well, Chekov Feeney good morning to you - it is fair to say that you are a veteran of many a demo, and you know many of the regular protestors and agitators by sight - you were actually there: and gave a detailed political analysis on your Indymedia website - which in many ways tallies with the first report of the Assistant Garda Commissioner.
Who do you think were the protestors and rioters in Dublin on Saturday?
Chekov: Well, good morning for a start!, the protestors and rioters that I saw did not appear to be connected with any particular political organisation or political party. Essentially, what I saw was the underbelly of the Celtic Tiger. Large numbers of angry young men who appeared to mainly come from the deprived working class estates around Dublin. These are young men who essentially have been excluded from the opportunities and the wealth that has come from our economic boom - and, are quite angry about it.
A large number of them gathered together in the same place and these people being excluded and disenfranchised from our society are volatile. Essentially this turned into a major riot, I think, the reaction from much of the political class has - essentially they have been clutching at straws.
They have been attempting to find somebody or some organisation to point a finger at. For example, Bertie Ahern's claim there that it is inconceivable that what was essentially a mob can move across a city at speed - I don't think that tallies with how riots work.
I do think that this was essentially unplanned and actually for once I would agree with the analysis of the Gardaí - it was very unexpected because something like this hasn't happened before in Dublin. We haven't seen big riots like this in general. We can assume or one assumes that if there is a large political event it is organised by somebody and I do not think this was the case.
NewsTalk106: Jim, do you accept that, that these people had no real political point other than an expression of their rage? at society generally?
Jim Cusack: I agree. I absolutely agree with Chekov up to a certain point, but...there was organisation went into this, it definitely was. I mean, I have email traffic here from em, December…when this was planned...
NewsTalk106: Who are you saying planned it Jim? Are you saying it was the geriatric Republican Sinn Féin or...
Jim Cusack: Hopefully you can read that in the Sunday Independent. Well, I’m not going to say, but there certainly was planning went into it. I mean, Chekov is absolutely right, there is a big element of disaffection - disaffected youth here, as they say - but no, no it was planned. Disaffected youth does not plan, does not organise, does not…(turn out in numbers)…
NewsTalk106: It is the degree of planning, Jim, we are trying to get to the root of - how much planning went into this riot?
Jim Cusack: There was a fair a bit of planning. Absolutely, a fair bit of planning. There was 2 or 3 groups involved here, it wasn't just them. And also, it wasn't just Republican Sinn Féin, there was other groups as well. There was the political wing of the Real IRA and there was almost certainly in collusion with other groups and Sinn Féin people were there in the background.
NewsTalk106: Jim, where is your evidence for that?! You are the only person I've heard saying this.
Jim Cusack: No I'm not...
NewsTalk106: Yes you are! Who else is saying this? The Gardaí are certainly not saying this, Bertie Ahern isn't saying this.
Jim Cusack: What Gardaí aren’t saying this?
NewsTalk106: The Gardaí are saying they still don't know.
Jim Cusack: Well y…Ask the Gards. Why don’t you ask the gards, (well, you know what I mean but the gards, oh sorry, the gards [?]broke an[?])…
NewsTalk106: They are still saying they are not sure if the riot was orchestrated - they actually don't know, as we speak.
Jim Cusack: No, no, no, you’re quoting official spokesmen (you know) and they don't say anything that’s any significance whatsoever The Garda management made a mess of this here - whether or not they had the intelligence and I believe they did have the intelligence. They just didn’t act on it and this got out of hand.
NewsTalk106: If they had the intelligence, Jim, why would they not act on it?
Jim Cusack: Well, there's all sorts of reasons for that there (I mean), they don't want to over-spend on overtime and stuff like that. There’s resource and human resource led management in the police force which really doesn't tally with the needs of what's going on in the city sometimes.
NewsTalk106: But Jim are you suggesting that the Real IRA and Sinn Féin were involved in this protest on Saturday and Garda management deliberately ignored this in their intelligence?
Jim Cusack: No, they didn't ignore their intelligence, they ignored it in their resource management. In other words, there was only 300 Gards there and there was over a thousand rioters, so, em, they just didn't get it right.
NewsTalk106: Well they didn't get it right, but what you are saying is they
knew what was coming down the line and chose to ignore it.
Jim Cusack: No I am not saying that - I am just saying that...
NewsTalk106: Yes! you are saying they knew they had the intelligence that there was going to be Real IRA involvement.
Jim Cusack: No, I’m not sayin’ they had inte…What I am saying is that, they may or may not have had the intelligence, but whatever they did they made a mess of it. They got it wrong, completely. You know what I mean, Garda management got this completely wrong.
NewsTalk106: Well we know they got it wrong,
Jim Cusack: Yeah.
NewsTalk106: But it is the root of where they got it wrong is what I am trying to get at here.
Jim Cusack: Well then, don't ask me, ask the Gards.
NewsTalk106: Well, I'm asking you for your evidence, Jim. You're talking here in quite a inflammatory situation about Real IRA and Sinn Féin involvement, where is your evidence for this?
Jim Cusack: em.. I have my sources. And I’ll stick by them, you know, (eh, I beli…).
NewsTalk106: Nobody has seen these people.
Jim Cusack: They were on the street.
NewsTalk106: Did you see them on the street?
Jim Cusack: Some of them, yeah. Hold on a second those are Teddy Bears who were throwin’ the stones in eh…(in Dublin)?
NewsTalk106: No, there were no Teddy Bears, Jim. I am simply trying to determine if these were alienated youth or members of Sinn Féin and the Real IRA - and I think it is a fair question to put to you.
Chekov what did you see on the streets on Saturday - did you see, did you recognise individuals?
Chekov: I did not. Well, obviously at any demonstration like that there is going to be members of political parties and so on, but they certainly weren't people who were involved in any of the fighting. In general most of them were there as observers, as far as I could see.
I think basing or making great claims like that on the basis of what a Garda might have told you in the pub is a little bit irresponsible, to be honest. The Gardaí have come out with their report and essentially it sounds to me a fairly accurate appraisal what their intelligence would have been - and certainly that was my understanding, I was very surprised that events panned out the way they did.
Some other points, most of the anger on the day seemed to be directed at the Gardaí - even more so than towards the Love Ulster march. To some extent, that would not be consistent with a protest which was organised by Republican groups.
That is symptomatic, to some extent, of the hatred that many young men in deprived areas have for Gardaí as a result of very common instances of heavy handed Garda tactics in dealing with these places or in dealing with youth - it is very very common to hear stories and reports of young men being beaten in custody in these areas. And I think all these things came to the surface.
NewsTalk106: Jim, time just for a final comment from you, and all that...
Jim Cusack: Like what?! I mean, just he’s…He's a silly boy, you know I mean. There was a very major riot in Dublin, Dublin has been portrayed...(as the capital of a…).
NewsTalk106: Jim, Jim, hold on now, he was there, he was there...
Jim Cusack: Bully for him…
NewsTalk106: Not bully for him Jim. That's not respectful talk about a gentleman who was there and knows what he saw.
Jim Cusack: Dublin is the capitol city of a country and it can't have a small demonstration by the victims of IRA violence in Northern Ireland march down the city centre without a thousand YOBs basically coming out and smashing the place up - and that's it. It's just a desperate desperate indictment on our country. And it was allowed to happen because of incompetence by someone - I don't know exactly who. But it was definitely incompetence and those people out there who were throwing stones and wrecking the city centre were horrible horrible people altogether.
They beat up two Bangladeshi...(workers in a shop)
NewsTalk106:You are getting no argument about that, as you know - there is no argument about that…
Jim Cusack: oh no, what’s your problem with…
NewsTalk106: We’re trying to determine who these people were, but we have no more time to talk about it, sorry to say...
Jim Cusack: They’re aliens! they came down from Mars! They are the young people from Dublin...
NewsTalk106: No, that's exactly what Chekov said - nobody is arguing about that either.
Jim Cusack: Exactly. Chekov is absolutely right, they are young disaffected youth and they are being led by the noses by people like Republican Sinn Féin, by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and by Sinn Féin - there were Sinn Féin people there on Saturday...
NewsTalk106: OK, we are back to the evidence thing again, I am afraid, Jim.
Thank you, very much indeed, for joining us this morning, Chekov Feeney, Indymedia editor, thank you, very much indeed for coming into studio. We'll take a break now for the headlines....