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(en) Ireland: Dublin Grassroots Network - press release and dossier of "dirty tricks"

From "Dublin Grassroots Network" <grassrootsdublin@yahoo.com>
Date Sat, 1 May 2004 11:46:45 +0200 (CEST)


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One of the groups organizing Mayday protests this weekend has expressed
concern that the government are attempting to incite a riot. Dublin
Grassroots Network said that Garda harassment of activists is designed
to raise tensions in advance of the protest. Comments by Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern that protestors are "mindless hooligans" were intended to
justify police attacks on demonstrators in advance, according to the
network. Laurence Cox of Dublin Grassroots Network said, "Over the past
two weeks we have seen a sustained campaign of Garda harassment of
people in our network, including stopping people distributing leaflets,
visits by Special Branch detectives, and trailing activists through the
streets of Dublin. On Tuesday, the Guards felt the need to stop two
members of the network who had gone to Moore St. market to buy food.
The excuse offered was that ‘onions could be used as missiles’."

Speaking as DGN released a dossier of security and media "dirty tricks"
(attached), Cox said "Arrests of activists on Tuesday and detention of
others on Wednesday mark a continuation of this ratcheting up of
tensions, along with a constant drip-feed of misinformation,
off-the-record briefings and straightforward misrepresentation to the
media. Bertie’s comments this week, attacking protestors as such, make
it clear that this strategy comes from the top level of the
government."

Aileen O’Carroll of DGN said "We are particularly concerned by media
reports that up to 1,200 Gardai disguised as demonstrators intend in
infiltrate our protests. The Gardai have admitted that Italian police
have helped with their planning, but the Italian police force has a
notorious record in using police officers disguised as demonstrators to
instigate riots. The organizers of the Genoa G8 protests believe that
police officers disguised as demonstrators started much of the Genoa
rioting.

"After Genoa, individual police officers admitted not only that this
had happened but also that petrol bombs had been planted by police
during their violent raid on the indymedia centre when dozens were
hospitalized. This is why 8 of the 9 enquires launched after Genoa were
into police behavior. Perhaps the same Italian police responsible for
these actions are the ones advising the Irish Gardai? Previous protests
in Dublin when uniformed but unnumbered Gardai went on the rampage
against peaceful protesters illustrate the very real danger here."

Dublin Grassroots Network is hoping for see large and peaceful protests
over the May weekend and has released detailed plans on its web site at
www.geocities.com/eufortress stressing its peaceful intentions. By
contrast, O’Carroll said, Garda plans were not officially released
until yesterday despite weeks of hints, threats and misrepresentations
of protestors.

O’Carroll said, "We believe that this strategy of advertising a riot
originates in the government rather than the Gardai. Therefore, we are
demanding the following guarantees from the Minister of Justice:

1. That no Gardai, foreign police or other parts of the Irish security
forces will infiltrate any of the protests disguised as demonstrators.

2. That all security forces deployed to police protesters be in uniform
with clearly visible individual identification numbers.

3. That the rules of engagement for the day be made publicly available
so that everyone can know under what conditions the Gardai can use
water cannon or guns against peaceful protesters.

These are reasonable requests. If the government is unable to give
these guarantees, our suspicion that this unpopular government intends
to incite a riot will strengthen. We ask the citizens of Dublin to turn
out peacefully and in large numbers to prevent this happening."

ENDS


DOSSIER OF "DIRTY TRICKS"
Introduction

We are releasing this dossier in order to place on record some of the
police and media response to Dublin Grassroots Network. We set out
openly our intention of organising peaceful protests in Dublin around
the issues of Fortress Europe, privatisation, EU militarism and social
justice. What we got was a sustained campaign of intimidation, dirty
tricks and misrepresentation.

This dossier is a very brief list of events, all of which can be
readily documented from obvious sources (media archive, Indymedia web
page). We hope after the events to develop a more detailed history in
order to hold those responsible to account. This will be all the more
necessary if, as we fear at present, the Government is attempting to
advertise a riot.

The security forces: "dirty tricks" and the militarisation of policing

Aisling Reidy of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties noted earlier
this week that they were " very concerned that gardai, through stories
fed to the media, is [sic] trying to soften up public opinion for a
show down, by talking of potential violence and well planned attacks by
subversives". She observed that the Garda Siochana is in fact legally
obliged to allow and protect peaceful protests.

These comments do not appear to have been heard by senior levels of the
security forces, or by the Minister for Justice. We have to ask who
ultimately benefits from the climate of tension which such activities
have created. Political responsibility certainly lies with an unpopular
government which lost the last free vote on European affairs (the first
vote on the Nice Treaty, which faced protests of 100,000 people last
year over its support for war and which has been facing widespread
direct action in response to its attempts to impose bin charges?

"Dirty tricks": behaviour in bad faith

* Stated intention to use undercover police officers within
demonstrations, despite the involvement of such officers in provocation
at the G8 summit protests in Genoa (see
http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/engEUR300122001!Open for a
statement of Amnesty International’s concerns about the policing of
Genoa)
* Encouraging businesses to shut over the weekend and feeding this
story to the media as an example of spontaneous concerns (see
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64654 for minute of a
meeting with the Assistant Commissioner and the City Centre
Businessman’s Association as part of this strategy).
* Unfounded claims about plans for an "attack" on the Blanchardstown
shopping centre
Harassment of Dublin Grassroots door-to-door leafletters, despite their
legal right to do so (see
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64499 for an eyewitness
account)
* Stopping and questioning of activists after buying onions (!) in
Moore St market (quote: "onions could be used as missiles")
* Arrest and detention of 2 activists on Thursday morning for hours
despite their possession of passports and bank cards to prove ID
* Videotaping of passengers arriving at Connolly from the Belfast train

Refusal to grant permission for the Another Europe is Possible march
(this decision has been appealed)
* Continuous generation of scare stories about "unrest" designed to
justify the militarisation of policing, despite consistent lack of
evidence.


The militarisation of policing

* The use of the army, armed gardai, rubber bullets / "non-lethal
weaponry", water cannon, razor wire etc. to police a peaceful protest
* Implication of "collective punishment" in comments such as those of
Garda Complaints Board chief Gordon Holmes, which seem to suggest that
if some protestors cause trouble, all deserve police violence
(Examiner, 27.4.04)
* Discussion of temporary detention centres and the intimidatory
clearing of a wing of Cloverhill prison for protestors
* The stated aim to prevent large groups of protestors gathering (Irish
Times, 19.04.04; see also Harry Brown’s comments in the Evening Herald,
23.4.04)
* The closure of the Phoenix Park for the first time in its history
* Calls to suspend freedom of travel by Lord Mayor Royston Brady

This amounts to a virtual suspension of the constitution. We also note
that the security forces are clearly acting in bad faith: if half of
their allegations were justified, we would have expected charges to be
brought against the organisers. Instead we have seen very few ministers
or official spokespeople willing to appear in public, but widespread
use of crime correspondents, ex-policemen, representatives of garda
trade unions GRA and AGSI, "security consultants" etc. to represent the
view of the security forces and ultimately of the Government.



Unscrupulous media: scare stories and silly stories

Harry Brown, in the Evening Herald (23.4.04), wrote that we have seen
"some of the most atrocious journalism in living memory" around the May
Day protests. We have seen widespread collusion between unsavoury
elements of the security forces (quoted as "garda source", "security
sources" etc.) and lazy journalists out for a quick sensation at the
expense of the truth. (There have also been some excellent, and brave,
pieces of fair reporting in the face of a "moral panic" about the
protests.)

Again, we have to ask who benefits from ignoring the key issues the
protests are focussing on — "Fortress Europe", privatisation,
militarisation and social injustice — and from reducing all the events
of a complex weekend down to a single march. We leave the answer to
this particular conundrum up to the specialists in media studies, and
to the honest colleagues of those who have treated political protest as
a way to fill column pages.


Scare stories

* The Irish Sun, on Saturday 24.4.04, ran a front-page article (backed
up by almost a page inside) on a supposed gas scare from anarchists.
What the article did not mention was that it would be sufficient to
make such a warning to enable its supposed targets (EU heads of state
at Farmleigh) to be provided with gas masks...
* The Star claimed to have "infiltrated" a "secret meeting", which was
in fact an open meeting of the London WOMBLES. The photos accompanying
the article show the words "Dublin Mayday" chalked on the door, as well
as a more extensive chalked sign and a leaflet taped to the door.
Challenged on this on the Late Late Show (23.4.04), the author of the
article failed to defend himself.
* Irish activists were the subjects of personalised smears in Ireland
on Sunday on 8.2.04 and 25.4.04. See
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=63361&comment_id=61453#comment61453
for details of how the journalist writing the first article behaved
while "infiltrating" another supposedly secret meeting.

* One activist received an anonymous phone call offering "guns and
explosives" just minutes before her phone rang with a reporter from the
Star, asking if DGN had been in contact with groups planning violence.
Details on
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64274&topic=mayday2004&results_offset=60).

Consistent libelling and misrepresentation of the British-based WOMBLES
organisation (see www.wombles.org.uk for more accurate versions).


Silly stories and wrong ones

* Persistent claims in the early weeks of April that implausible
numbers of activists would come to Dublin from abroad. Figures of
15,000 to 20,000 were routinely given.

* Stories on 4.4.04 where Ireland on Sunday claimed that "anarchists"
had "stockpiles of weapons" and the News of the World spoke of a
"secret army" which was apparently plotting a "bloodbath".

* Consistent misrepresentation of the events of May Day 2002 in Dublin
(actually May 6th), where gardai were filmed (and the film was shown on
national television) attacking a peaceful Reclaim the Streets party.

* Consistent misrepresentation of the facts of the G8 protests at
Genoa, where protestor Carlo Giuliani was killed by police, hundreds of
protestors were beaten in custody, and there were a series of judicial
investigations into the behaviour of the Italian police force.

As a number of saner voices have commented recently, such behaviour
involves those media who engage in it in advertising a riot. It raises
tensions among protestors and police alike. We believe that
poor-quality reporting, by consistently focussing on the hypothetical
(or invented) possibility of violence, will bear a real responsibility
for potential incidents this May Day weekend.

Dublin Grassroots Network

29.4.04

http://www.struggle.ws/eufortress


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