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'Gardai Seek to Remove Campers on the Hill of Tara Under The Housing Act, 2002
history and heritage |
Saturday July 15, 2006 12:26 by Siobhan Rice - Political Affairs Officer - TaraWatch info at tarawatch dot org 086-319-9833
TaraWatch is sending out a call for support for the Solidarity Camp,
The Solidarity camp is an independent, democratic, non-hierarchical group. TaraWatch met with members on the Hill of Tara yesterday. We were asked to send out a universal call for support and issue a statement, on their behalf.
Sat, 15 July 2006
'Gardai Seek to Remove Campers on the Hill of Tara Under The Housing Act, 2002
Acting at the behest of the Office of Public Works, on Friday 14th July, the Gardai Siochana payed a visit to the Solidarity Camp set up on the Hill of Tara, and threatened to prosecute members under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2002.
This Act criminalizes trespass on public and private land. It provides that:
“a person without the consent of the owner, shall not enter or occupy any land or bring on to that land any object which might either damage the land or effect any amenity attaching to the land or prevent other people using the land”.
Having taken legal advice on the matter, TaraWatch is of the opinion that the campers are not in breach of any of the provisions of the Act. In fact, the Act is being used as a subterfuge to suppress speech.
The Gardai said they will return today, Saturday, 15th July, after investigating whether or not the inhabitants had in fact erected a 'structure' by tying a tarpolin to a tree.
Since the Hill of Tara became public land, and indeed for many millenia before that, people have camped there in order to enjoy the amenity, and none have ever been prosecuted.
In this case, the campers have been threatened with prosecution, not because of their presence on the site, but because of what they stand for, and what they are saying, i.e. "Save Tara".
TaraWatch believes that is an act of selective prosecution, which entails using the Housing Act in order to quell constitutionally protected free speech, which is gauranteed in Article 40 of the Constitution of Ireland.
In addition, the campers have stated their clear intent to perform and complete their religious ceremony, which will conclude on August 2. This right to exercise their relgious beliefs is protected in Irish law and under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Siobhan Rice, Political Affairs Officer, said:
"TaraWatch welcomes the action taken by these campers, and thanks them for their brave expression of support for the campaign to reroute the M3 away from the Tara complex,.
"We are grateful this independently organised group has offered such a clear expression of solidarity, on behalf of the Irish public, and all who hold Irish heritage dear to their hearts.
"The members of the camp issued the following statement yesterday evening:
WE ARE A PEOPLE'S SOLIDARITY CAMP, HERE TO SUPPORT THE LOCAL PEOPLE AND ALL THE CAMPAIGNS. WE ARE ADAMANT IN OUR NONAFFILIATION WITH ANY PATICULAR CAMPAIGN OR POLITICAL PARTY, BUT WELCOME ANY FRIENDS OF TARA TO OUR SOLSTICE VIGIL FIRE WHICH HAS BEEN BURNING SINCE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE.
"We encourage the public to visit the Hill of Tara, and show their support."
Contact: Siobhan Rice: 086-319-9833
HOUSING (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT, 2002
(2) In this part a reference to land includes—
(a) land provided or maintained by a statutory body primarily for the amenity or recreation of the public or any class of persons (including any park, open space, car park, playing field or other space provided for recreational, community or conservation purposes) or is land within the curtilage of any public building,
19C.—(1) A person, without the duly given consent of the owner, shall not—
(a) enter and occupy any land, or
(b) bring onto or place on any land any object,
where such entry or occupation or the bringing onto or placing on the land of such object is likely to—
(i) substantially damage the land,
(ii) substantially and prejudicially affect any amenity in respect of the land,
(iii) prevent persons entitled to use the land or any amenity in respect of the land from making reasonable use of the land or amenity,
(iv) otherwise render the land or any amenity in respect of the land, or the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land, unsanitary or unsafe,
(v) substantially interfere with the land, any amenity in respect of the land, the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.
(3) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed an offence under subsection (1) the member—
(a) may demand of the person his or her name and address,
(b) may direct the person to leave the land concerned and to remove from the land any object that belongs to the person or that is under his or her control, and
(c) shall inform the person of the nature of the offence in respect of which it is suspected that person has been involved and the statutory consequences of failing to comply with a demand or direction under this subsection.
19E.—A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person—
(a) who fails or refuses to give his or her name and address when demanded under section 19C(3)(a) or gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading,
(b) who fails to comply with a direction given under section 19C(3)(b), or
(c) whom the member finds committing an offence under section 19C(1).