Jobstown Trials – an attack on the right to protest

protest-jobstown-protesters-water-charges-3-752x501By Greg Lilley

Monday 19th September saw the start of the Jobstown show trials. In the Children’s Court in Dublin, a 17-year-old was put in the dock facing the charge of false imprisonment. The accuser – former Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton – arrived to give evidence to the delight of the media.

In November 2014, Burton became the focal point of a sit-down protest in Jobstown, a working class area of Dublin, as she visited a graduation ceremony. The event happened just beside a food bank. Around the corner, a homeless couple had been forced to live in their car for two weeks. This is a community ravaged by austerity and betrayed by Joan Burton’s Labour Party.

In February 2015, a series of dawn raids were orchestrated by the Gardaí which saw selected Jobstown protesters removed from their homes for questioning and subsequently charged with false imprisonment and other offences – because Burton was stuck in her luxury car, guarded by police for two hours. Among those charged are three Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) representatives and Socialist Party activists – Paul Murphy TD and councillors Mick Murphy and Kieran Mahon.

Government forced to suspend water charges

This is a politically motivated trial. A government that has had to suspend water charges due to a campaign of mass demonstrations and, crucially, mass non-payment – which the AAA has been instrumental in building – was under pressure to show it hadn’t lost control. The Jobstown arrests and charges are an attempt to bully people out of engaging in peaceful, democratic protests.

However, there are no signs of a let up in the desire for justice. On September 17th, Dublin was once again filled with protesters outside the Children’s Court. At Irish Embassies around the globe, protesters gathered to highlight what was going on. Political policing will not deter the voice of protest. “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Everyone should actively demand that the charges be dropped and continue to demonstrate that we will not be silenced by the sinister tactics of those in power.

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