Eamon Gilmore, the Irish Labour Party Tanaiste (Depute Prime Minister) took protestor, Donall O Ceallaigh, to court for criminal damage to his car. The following article from eirigi highlights both the light, and far mote serious sides to this case.
Peals of laughter rang out in Court 4 of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin this morning when it was revealed that a grand total of €9 worth of ‘criminal damage’ had been allegedly caused to the ministerial car of Eamon Gilmore during an éirígí organised anti-austerity protest in Ballyfermot on Friday October 5th.
Further laughter erupted when the Garda witness revealed that the €9 had been spent on a car wash which ‘repaired’ the ‘criminal damage.’ Despite the obvious farce of the situation the charges of criminal damage and breach of the peace against Dónall Ó Ceallaigh were not struck out by the presiding judge.
Speaking in relation to the court appearance Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said, “Today’s court proceedings would have been hilarious had the judge thrown the case out of court, but as it stands a young man remains on criminal charges; facing the prospect of criminal convictions. When Dónall was originally charged the Gardaí claimed that somewhere in the region of €200 worth of damage had been done to Gilmore’s car and possibly more, but now it turns out there was no damage at all. If criminal damage can be fixed with a car wash the Gardaí might want to consider charging the seagulls and pigeons that regularly cause criminal damage to cars across the state!”
Leeson continued by condemning the state’s attempts to criminalise legitimate protest, “Yet again we have witnessed the state going to great effort and expense to haul an anti-austerity protester through the courts on trumped up charges. We have seen the same thing in Mayo over the last number of years where dozens of protesters, including éirígí activists, have been charged for resisting the giveaway of the Corrib Gas field. And in Dublin éirígí members have been brought before the courts on a range of spurious charges. Indeed the only people that have been convicted as a result of the entire banking crisis are two éirígí members who took part in a protest outside Anglo Irish headquarters.
“And éirígí councilor, Louise Minihan, was jailed for seven days for the non-payment of a fine arising from her protest against Mary Harney. On that occasion the governor of the Dóchas centre even told Louise that she would be detained for the full seven days because of political interference, stating that the governor had ‘got a phone call’. It is abundantly clear that the state is attempting to criminalise the very notion of protest and that it is willing to use the full extent of the law, and beyond, to deter people from coming onto the streets.”
Leeson concluded by calling for further protest and direct actions, “It suits the establishment political parties to maintain a facade of democracy where the population only get a limited say once every five years. It suits them when protest is limited to polite walks around Dublin city centre. It suits them to have a revolving door system of government where TDs get paid a fortune not to rock the boat too much.
“The establishment political parties have failed the people of this state and this country. The current model of representative democracy has failed. It is time for a new form of democracy where the people are not simply regarded as sheep to be herded into support of one establishment party or the other. The time is long past for mass protests, general strikes and direct actions against those who have created the current economic and social catastrophe.”
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