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(en) Ireland: Dublin Grassroots - Arrests confirm pattern of garda harassment

From Dublin Grassroots Network <grassrootsdublin@yahoo.com>
Date Wed, 28 Apr 2004 15:45:57 +0200 (CEST)

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The arrests of three protestors in Dublin last night
(Tuesday night) have been branded by protest
organisers as simply the latest in a campaign of garda
harassment in the run-up to next weekends protests.
Dublin Grassroots Network spokesperson Laurence Cox
said on Wednesday: "The police have already made major
mistakes with their intimidatory approach to policing
the Mayday weekend of events for an alternative
Europe, and have been widely criticised for doing so
[1]. Last night's arrests were unnecessary and will
only serve to heighten tensions."

Spokesperson Liz Curry added: "Instead of allowing
people to quietly occupy a criminally derelict
building for use as an accommodation centre, the
gardai have now created a situation where over a
hundred protestors will be arriving in Dublin from
abroad with nowhere to go [2]. These people have been
forced out onto the streets of Dublin at night for a
period of five days." [3]

The building in question has been derelict for years
and is listed as such in Thom's Directory. Curry
commented: "With rising homelessness and lengthening
housing lists, the owners of derelict buildings are
the real criminals that the gardai should be
attending. Perfectly good buildings are allowed to
fall into disrepair so that they can be demolished,
and a small minority of big owners engage in property
speculation while people are forced into paying
extortionate amounts for housing."

The gardai also confiscated protective clothing from
the accommodation centre. Spokesperson Aileen
O'Carroll noted, "In the face of police and media
hysteria, people have the right to protect their
bodies in whatever way they feel necessary, in a
context where live rounds, rubber bullets, water
cannons and tear gas are being deployed to suppress
dissent. After the televised attacks on protestors at
May Day two years ago, is it any wonder that
protestors feel the need for protective clothing?"
Dublin Grassroots Network called on the state and
Gardai to cease the harassment of visiting activists
[4]. O'Carroll said, "They have every right to come to
Dublin and engage in meaningful protest against the
policies of Fortress Europe. They require a space to
sleep. Any future space provided for protesters must
be left alone, for practical reasons. Nobody wants to
see visitors wandering the streets at night. The
gardai must not repeat a similar mistake."

The spokespeople noted that the gardai have a
constitutional obligation to facilitate peaceful
protest. "Unfortunately the indications are that those
responsible for the gardai have instructed them to do
everything possible to prevent people exercising their
right to protest", said Cox. "Once again we are
calling for a low-key policing strategy and a lowering
of tensions."


[1] This has been tacitly recognised in the way that
various official spokespersons have sought in recent
days to downplay numbers of police and protestors,
talk of the need for calm etc., after weeks of
hysteria in which many of the same individuals played
a leading part.

[2] Routinely at anti-globalisation in Europe and
elsewhere, municipal governments have provided
accommodation for visiting protestors for practical
reasons. This was the case for example in Florence for
the European Social Forum, in Porto Alegre for the
World Social Forum and even in Genoa for the G8

[3] Irish law on squatting of derelict buildings is a
draconian relic of the 1970s which is out of step with
most, if not all, other European jurisdictions, where
public squats are an acknowledged part of the city
landscape and often act as socio-cultural centres
hosting films, gigs and other activities. Uniquely in
Ireland, squatting is a felony.

[4] This kind of dirty tricks has been a recurrent
feature of police preparations for this protest. Over
the past two weeks, DGN leafletters were persistently
harassed by gardai in breach of their constitutional
rights. Over the past week, gardai have been visiting
city-centre businesses and encouraging them to close
for the weekend. Stories have subsequently appeared
about the fears of business-owners with no mention of
how those fears had been fueled.

For more information, including Mayday event plans,
see: http://struggle.ws/eufortress

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