IFPAL member arrested over "offensive" No To Lisbon sign outside Israeli Embassy.
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Earlier today, Friday 18th September, Sean Clinton, a member of the anti-Lisbon campaign group Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon (IFPAL) was arrested outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin. His "crime" was erecting an IFPAL sign calling for a 'No' vote in the Lisbon Referendum.
Related Links are positioned at the end of the story.
On Thursday 17th September, Mr. Clinton received an email from a Mr. Aidan Walsh in Dublin City Council stating that, as a result of a complaint from Donnybrook Garda Station, that if the sign at the Israeli Embassy was not removed by IFPAL, then DCC would remove it. The rationale they cited at this point was that the sign was "a distraction to motorists" - this despite the fact that the area has many signs (as can be seen from the attached photos) calling for Yes and No votes in the Referendum, some of which are actually closer to the road than the IFPAL one. Mr. Clinton then called DCC and asked to speak with Mr. Walsh. Mr. Walsh was not available, and instead Mr. Clinton spoke to Ms. Deri Flood in the Engineering Dept (Mr. Walsh's supervisor). After a discussion and having seen the sign for herself, Ms. Flood stated that the sign was "too big". As a compromise, Mr. Clinton offered to come to Dublin from Limerick where he lives, and replace the "big" sign with one half the size. Ms. Flood agreed to this, and 11.00am Friday morning was the time agreed upon for the switchover.
Mr. Clinton left Limerick early Friday morning and arrived outside the Israeli Embassy at 11.05am only to discover that the IFPAL sign had vanished. Undeterred, he bought timber and set about erecting the new smaller sign. At this point a Garda on duty outside the Israeli Embassy approached him and told him that he could not erect the sign on the pole as it was a Dublin City Council pole. Mr. Clinton then pointed out that most of the other poles in the area had signs on them - he was told that this was because they were ESB poles, not DCC ones. Despite Mr. Clinton's best efforts to persuade him otherwise, including explaining he had permission from Ms. Flood in DCC to erect a smaller sign, the Garda insisted that a permit was required to erect the sign. When asked the name of the permit and how one could be obtained, the Garda spent about ten minutes on the phone to his supervisor.
Eventually, and with no clarity on the permit issue, the Garda told Mr. Clinton that if he continued to try to erect the sign he would be arrested. Voicing his right to free speech during a referendum, the argument continued until a Garda car with three further Gardaí arrived on the scene. The Embassy Garda then got back on the phone and after a while returned with the news that Donnybrook Garda Station had received a complaint from the Israeli Embassy to the effect that the IFPAL sign was "offensive and abusive". Mr. Clinton then asked exactly what was offensive and abusive about the sign? Was it that the Israeli war-machine had murdered over 300 hundred children in Gaza in December and January last? This, Mr. Clinton stated, was indeed offensive to him but was no reason for removing a sign pointing out this grotesque fact - and certainly not at the behest of the State that carried out this brutal massacre.
Then in a bizarre abuse of logic, Mr. Clinton was told that while the allegedly "offensive and abusive" IFPAL sign could not be erected, Mr. Clinton was free to stand outside the Israeli Embassy with the exact same sign! One has to ask, if the sign was too "offensive and abusive" to be erected, then why would it be alright to hold it up manually? Can an inanimate object lose its alleged "offensive and abusive" nature by virtue of not being attached to a pole?
Arrest and Release
Eventually, Mr. Clinton was told that he must leave the area or be arrested. Mr. Clinton refused, citing his right to free speech, and was duly arrested under the Public Order Act, handcuffed and frog-marched to the Garda car where he was brought to Donnybrook Garda Station. He was detained in a cell for around a half an hour and was then released without charge. Mr. Clinton was not questioned about his alleged breach of the Public Order Act, nor were any questions asked about the alleged "offensive and abusive" nature of the offending sign - the word of the Israeli Embassy was, it seems, taken as the final word on the matter. Despite being released without charge, upon attempting to leave the Station, Mr. Clinton was told that he must submit to being photographed - despite having committed no crime. When he questioned the logic of this, the Gardaí it appears did a volte face, and told him that they would be sending the file onto the DPP and his photograph was required in case of a future court proceeding. Having no option, Mr. Clinton acceded to the demand. To wind up a terrible day for Mr. Clinton, when he arrived back at the Embassy to collect his van, he found that it had been clamped!
Speaking of his ordeal, Mr. Clinton said: "This is a blatant denial of freedom of speech as enshrined in the Irish Constitution, another example of an abuse of power to shelter Israel from legitimate criticism over its disgusting treatment of the Palestinian people. It also represents a direct undemocratic interference by a foreign state, Israel, in a national referendum to amend the Irish Constitution.
Mr. Clinton continued: "Furthermore, the fact that the Gardai didn't examine the evidence or ask questions about the alleged "offensive and abusive" nature of the IFPAL sign and just took the word of the Israeli Embassy on face value raises some uncomfortable questions.
Mr. Clinton concluded: However, if the sign's content is indeed offensive, then that is no ones fault except for the State of Israel and their genocidal practices! What the sign says is true - you don't have to take my word for it, one just has to look at the human rights reports that have come out recently - notably the Goldstone Report". (see the end of this post for such reports)
Second Arrest of an IFPAL Activist in a Month
This is the second arrest of a member of IFPAL in the run up to the Lisbon vote. On Saturday 19th August, Tommy Donnellan was arrested in Galway City while campaigning against Lisbon. He arrested at the behest of a couple of irate Zionist tourists who took umbrage with the message displayed on the IFPAL sign. He was later released without charge. Full details of this incident can be read at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/93845 and http://mondoweiss.net/2009/08/suppression-of-free-speec....html (report by an independent Canadian by-stander Geoffrey V. Gray)
Other Robberies and Vandalism of IFPAL Signs
This is, unfortunately, not the first time that an IFPAL sign has been undemocratically removed or vandalised. In fact, virtually all of them have been removed by 'mysterious forces' - some of them with vans as evidence by tire-tracks at the sites of some of the robberies.
Below is a list of the IFPAL signs that have been stolen or vandalised.
Two signs stolen at Newlands Cross, Naas Road, Dublin.
IFPAL I raft sign stolen from River Liffey
IFPAL II raft sign stolen in Galway
Four other signs stolen in Galway (plus one attempted robbery - see first minute of the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PPxuVsPunc)
Two signs stolen in Limerick
Two signs painted over in Limerick
There are also signs who's status is at present undetermined, if you have any info please let IFPAL know. There are in the following locations:
Dublin Airport roundabout,
Near the Montrose Hotel in Dublin 4
Motorway from the West, Chapelizad area
A similar anti-democratic campaign of robbery and vandalism was perpetrated during the lead-up to last year's (apparently irrelevant) vote on the Lisbon Treaty. See here for just one example: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87888
Human Rights Reports on Gaza
Goldstone Report (UN): http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specials...n.htm
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR): http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2009/news/....html
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/en/publications/reports?filter0=**ALL**&filter1=228
Amnesty International: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/02_07_09_gaz...t.pdf
Lisbon Referendum – Some Truth and Plenty of Lies | Voting NO to Llsbon 2 | Big Business Out to Buy a 'Yes' to Lisbon | Lisbon Treaty: Three Strikes, You’re Out | VOTE NO to Lisbon - Raft on the Liffey Launch | Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon put their case to the public in Dublin's Grafton Street | Green Party U-Turn on a Democratic EU | The Lisbon Treaty and the Triumph of Technocracy | Debut of Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon outside Dublin EU Parliament Offices | 13 Things the Lisbon Treaty Would Do | The Legal guarantees on Lisbon Treaty will not change treaty - a propaganda stunt to mislead voters | Dáil shouldn't have inferior Lisbon Treaty powers to German Parliament, controlling ministers | The Lisbon Treaty, Alan Shatter and the guys in hoods! | Lisbon Treaty News: German Constitutional Court delays Germany’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty | No EU Guarantees Can Change Thrust Toward Militarisation in Lisbon Treaty | The Gurantees: Comment by Jens-Peter Bonde | Spoofing the Irish media and public with Lisbon “guarantees” that guarantee nothing | Supposed ‘hard fight’ to secure guarantees on Lisbon Treaty: a clever tactic to mislead says McKenna | Lisbon: Round Two - A bosses charter, with or without 'guarantees' | The Lisbon Assurances - A Closer Look
No to Lisbon Groups List can be found here.
Erecting the orginal IFPAL sign