Those arrested for their participation in the protest against Tánaiste Joan Burton in Jobstown last November, including Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD Paul Murphy, are now officially going to trial (Irish Times 2 November https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/district-court/paul-murphy-to-face-jury-trial-accused-of-false-imprisonment-of-joan-burton-1.2414333), most of them facing a potential life sentence for the charge of “false imprisonment”.
It is to be hoped that no jury will decide that delaying Joan Burton in her car for around 3 hours could possibly amount to “false imprisonment” and likewise that the charges of “violent disorder” some are also facing will be thrown out.
Opposing this outrageous attack on the right to protest would seem a fairly straightforward issue for the anti-water charges movement and the wider workers’ movement. However I worry that this elementary solidarity will be neglected in the face of the recent vitriol being heaped on the AAA over their refusal to guarantee support to a government involving any party who signed up to the Right2Change policy document (concretely this means Sinn Féin).I hope that is not the case.
The AAA have based their campaign around the charge of “political policing”, losing sight of the fact that the Gardai are always political, and it is their role to defend the state and ruling class from threat. Whatever political differences we have within the anti-water charges movement we should recognise that these trials are an attack on the right to stage effective political protests. If they take place without significant opposition, up to and including mass protests disrupting the court process, let alone if there are convictions on these bogus charges, it will be a defeat for us all.
An injury to one is an injury to all!