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Activist with Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon arrested in Galway yesterday
Sunday August 30, 2009 11:18 by Raymond Deane - Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon
"The Garda was clearly overstepping his authority in arresting him"
On Saturday 29th August, the indefatigable activist Tommy Donnellan of IFPAL (Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon) was arrested on the street in Galway while engaged in legitimate advocacy for the Palestinian cause, and against the Lisbon Treaty that will set in formaldehyde the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy that is so detrimental to that cause
Tommy was peacefully distributing leaflets and collecting signatures when he was approached by a couple of elderly and angry Israeli tourists. The man took exception to the IFPAL placard which displays the incontrovertible message that the Israeli Occupying Forces killed some 300 children when they invaded Gaza last December and January, a figure that the Zionist tourist claimed was false.
Tommy sought to engage the ranting gentleman in "democratic discussion", but to no avail. Eventually the Israeli summoned a youthful Garda who, without seeking to establish the facts of the matter, instructed Tommy to discontinue his legitimate advocacy and move away from the area. Tommy - who, to the great annoyance of the Garda, continued filming while arguing with him - refused on principle to move from the spot.
A polite and well-spoken American (or Canadian?) couple, who had witnessed the whole thing, sought to convince the Garda that Tommy was in fact the injured party, having been subjected to abuse and intimidation by the Israelis. The Garda was less interested in their evidence than in trying to prevent Tommy from filming this dialogue, and at last announced that he was arresting the intrepid activist "under Section 24 of the 1994 Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act for an Offence under Section 8 of the 1994 Criminal Justice Public Order Act."
A little research reveals that Section 24 of this Act allows a Garda to arrest without warrant a person (presumed male) who "fails or refuses to give his name and address when demanded, or gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading." Section 8 deals with "failure to comply with direction of [a] member of Garda Siochana" if that member directs the person to desist from acting in such a manner as (according to Section 7 of the Act) "in a public place to distribute or display any writing, sign or visible representation which is threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace may be occasioned."
Clearly, however, Tommy's "writing, sign or visible representation" represented a truthful account of Israel's crimes, which constitute the real abuse, insult, and obscenity. Indeed this same material has been displayed in a number of Irish towns and cities over the last month without exciting hostility from the police. Furthermore, Tommy was not asked his name and address, hence didn't fail or refuse to give it. The Garda was clearly overstepping his authority in arresting him, and would have been better occupied in arresting the male Israeli tourist whose "intent to provoke a breach of the peace" was so obvious to the two visitors from North America!
That the police officer didn't have a leg to stand on was proved by Tommy's subsequent release without charge. What was involved here, in fact, was a piece of blatant harassment of a political activist engaged in legitimate advocacy of a cause perceived as just by the majority of Irish people, at the behest of a couple of irate tourists from the criminal Israeli state. No doubt the representative of the forces of "public order" was also eager to strike a blow against critics of the Lisbon Treaty, to which the Irish state is so bullishly committed.
Caption: Arrest of IFPAL Activist in Galway