Last Summer, there was a particular sit-down protest, down the road from the Rossport solidarity camp. Someone had spotted two Shell vehicles and had led them, at a snail’s pace, to the area where the protest took place.

A group of people sat on the road, in front of the first Shell vehicle. Others directed all cars that arrived, around the protest and they continued on their merry ways. This facilitation ended with the arrival of the gardaí and the gardaí didn’t resume it.

Eventually there were to be four gardaí on the scene.

Terence Conway was arrested at this protest.

Terence Conway

Terence Conway

The garda who arrested Terence was at the scene for approximately an hour prior to the arrival of Garda “Rape” McHale, who gave a Section 8 direction. Terence was accused of two offences under the Public Order Act. He was accused of an offence under Section 9, obstructing traffic, and an offence under Section 8, for failing or refusing to leave the area immediately after being directed to do so.

Terence’s trial took place last December. We approached the trial from a strategic perspective. We knew that we could show that the garda evidence, video and statements, went nowhere to show that Terrence had committed a crime. As far as we were concerned, it not only vindicated him, it exhibited, in very clear terms, garda malpractice and it wasn’t just down to a single officer, it shows systemic and procedural malpractice. It identified the pathogen, Garda “Rape” McHale, and it showed how his infection spread. But of course, Belmullet Court was in the way of publicly exposing this. Garda malpractice has long been ignored in Belmullet. Thus we decided to do the very minimum necessary to win the case. The bonus being that if we didn’t win the case, we’d get the opportunity to annihilate the case in Ballina Circuit Court, possibly in front of the president of the Circuit Court. And we’d not have given the prosecution a heads-up on of what was possible during the first trial – they’d be babes in the wood, in front of the president.

The fateful day in December arrived. We’d put a lot of time and effort into planning a very short trial. We’d even gone so far as to estimate, for the judge, during that last date, when it was due to be heard, that the trial would take half an hour. That’s exactly what it took. We spent most of the cross-examinations establishing facts to mislead the gardaí into thinking that we’d also use them in the appeal, which of course we didn’t. One undisputed fact that we established was that Terence, when he’d first approached the scene of the protest, before the arrival of any garda, had given some DVDs to one of the Shell drivers and had explained to him that there was nothing about the protest that was directed towards him personally. Terence, when he went away from that driver, was assured that it was policy not to attempt to move any vehicle during this type of protest, until the gardaí ended it or it ended of its own volition. In other words, Terence was very sure, each time he approached the protest, that so long as it continued, he couldn’t be obstructing traffic. Another fact was put to the arresting garda in the form of an accusation. It was put to him that the gardaí had stopped people from directing traffic around the protest. It was put to him that the gardaí chose not to direct this traffic around the protest to facilitate a PR exercise on behalf of the State and Shell. The more people annoyed, the better. Let’s not forget that the arresting garda was on the scene for more than an hour before the first and only Section 8 direction was given. Another important fact was put to the garda who filmed the video evidence. It was put to him, that he’d shut off his camera shortly after he’d filmed Garda “Rape” McHale giving the Section 8 direction, and that he’d done this as he needed both his hands free, to assault people. He obviously disagreed with our reasoning, however, he was unable to offer any reason as to why he stopped filming.

The cross-examinations finished and the State rested. Terence made a number of applications to toss the matter, based on the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever before the court that accused him of a crime. The chimp in the expensive suit, newly appointed to the bench, didn’t even bother to look at Terence or put an answer to his applications, he merely turned to the prosecuting pig and asked to hear about prior convictions. This was where I nearly had a heart attack. Terence had a suspended sentence hanging over him. Thankfully the chimp ignored this and just fined Terence. Half an hour. It was close to Christmas after all, and the GSOC were (and are?) currently investigating all that free booze that Shell’s go guys had gotten for their pet pigs. Santa had even shown up earlier, in the courtroom, with beverages for the poor and tired gardaí.

So, last Thursday, 20th February 2014, we arrived in Ballina for some blood. There were five of us in the car, journeying from Terence’s home and the case was barely touched on during the ride. We arrived a minute or two after ten. Things weren’t due to kick off for another half hour so we went across the road from the court in search of tea and coffee. Again, the case wasn’t a topic for talk. Dread? Not really. I think the word “savouring” adequately describes where we were.

The case was called. Terence and I made our way to the front of the courtroom. The first prosecution witness, Garda “Rape” McHale, a petty little man, a total and utter arselicker, danced his way to the stand. His body language denoted the aspect of a god, however, his uniform and history denote a pig, rank and vile. Terence immediately fired off the first tactical shot of the slaughter. He informed Judge Groarke, president of the Circuit Court, that he’d not be contesting the validity of the video evidence. Thus the Chief State Solicitor could show the video before we cross-examined his first witness. And of course it dispensed with the prosecution in needing most of its witnesses. It tightened up on the efficiency of things for us and it kept some gurriers off the streets for a few hours. A “win win” tactic.

Garda “Rape” McHale witnessed a group of people, seven of them, sitting on the road and blocking traffic, there were others present too. “Rape” approached the seven and asked them to leave as they were committing an offence under Section 9 of the Public Order Act, they were obstructing traffic. He then left them for a few minutes before returning to them to issue a Section 8 direction, ordering them to leave the area immediately. It’s important to note that “Rape” didn’t say in evidence, nor does it say in his statement, that he approached anyone else. Anyhow, Terence heard the direction. He didn’t leave. He was arrested. End of.

The video evidence: this evidence starts with “Rape” approaching the people sitting on the road. The camera is panned to ensure that all those who are sitting, can be identified. Nobody else is thus identified until after the Section 8 direction is being given. Though it’s quite clear that Terence is there. The video evidence is taken from behind “Rape” as he directs those in front of him. To the right, you can see that someone is filming “Rape.” That someone was Terence. Soon after “Rape” starts to issue the Section 8 direction, Terence’s face can clearly be seen.

McHale finished giving his theatrical direction, or his “soliloquy” as Terence called it, during cross-examination. Terence immediately addresses “Rape.” He basically introduces “Rape” to those present as being a thug of ill repute. He reminds everyone that this particular piece of work was descended from a similar piece of work (a Garda McNulty) who gained noteriety during the incident at McGrath’s pier (A scandalous day for the gardaí that the State is afraid to talk about). The very same incident that later and allegedly, had Shell seeking to have a statement changed, as it scandalised one Superintendent Joe Gannon, and Joe, well, Joe was Shell’s man. Anyhow, the camera was turned off or paused, immediately after Terence said what he’d had to say. The next scene shows gardaí dragging the protesters and pedestrians from the road and throwing them to the side of it. Then the camera pans and Garda “Rape” McHale and the arresting garda, Garda Shane Prendergast, can be identified. Prendergast throws Terence to the ground. The Chief State solicitor called for the video to be paused at this particular moment and asked “Rape” if that had been Terence’s arrest. “Rape” obliged his better and said that it was. “Rape” was then handed over to Terence for disposal. Before disposal, Terence asked the president to view the remaining few seconds of the video to establish that Terence had not been arrested at that time and that Garda Prendergast can be seen to be moving away from Terence and directly towards his next victim.

Terence started out friendly enough by establishing that someone who looks at, gestures towards, another person and talks, is talking to that person, or would be judged to be doing so by an observer. During this line of questioning, Terence developed a particular theme, aimed directly at the president, rather than the witnesses (though it was fun to watch them move from being unafraid of contradicting this to being very afraid of doing so). Terence put it to “Rape” that the video evidence clearly shows that he didn’t arrive until after “Rape” had commenced issuing the Section 8 direction. Judge Groarke would make a good poker player. But he did a double take on this assertion and we knew that the hook had caught. We intended that he’d conclude that Terence’s defence somehow hung on this assertion. We intended, possibly unfairly so, that after this, the judge would allow us lots of leeway or rope, in the defence. Whether this leeway, that we did receive, was the result, or whether it was the judge’s own sense of fairness that gave Terence what was needed, I don’t know. But I tend to believe it was the judge’s fairness. But why take the chance?

Terence put it to “Rape” that it was reasonable for an onlooker to conclude that the Section 8 direction had been given to the sitting protesters, and that the onus had been on “Rape” to make Terence aware that the direction included him, if it was intended to include him. “Rape” was having none of it. Terence was there and he’d heard the direction.

Terence put it to “Rape” that Section 8 of the Public Order Act allows a garda to direct “a person.” There is nothing in the section that allows a garda to give the direction to a crowd. “Rape,” being the consummate professional that he is, explained to the president that there had only been 4 gardaí present and that they were vastly outnumbered and that to have issued lawful directions individually, wouldn’t have been feasible.

After this, Terence took “Rape” elsewhere. You see, “Rape,” in his statement, says that after he gave the direction, that he and the other gardaí commenced moving folks, those sitting, those standing and those walking; everyone. Indeed the video evidence captured how Terence was moved. And they continued to move people for more than 20 minutes. After which, Terence was arrested by Garda Prendergast, for failing or refusing to comply with the Section 8 direction given by “Rape”. When Terence was arrested, “Rape” and the garda with the video camera, Garda Quinn, left the scene with him. The peaceful protest was intensified and ongoing. Yup, it was feasible to spend nearly half an hour, kicking the shite out of everyone present, but it wasn’t feasible to just tell them to “fuck off,” individually.

When this period of questioning started, the defence had already effectively ended. And there was no way around this, unless “Rape” McHale tried to do a quick repair. And we were ready for that, in the unlikely event that he’d have the wit to spot the glaring omission. You see, he had given the direction. Which meant, that in order for him to be actually able to lawfully direct Terence, he must first have suspected him of having committed the Section 9 offence of obstruction. He’d not mentioned any of Terence’s movements prior to giving that direction. Thus a reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed, was not in evidence before the court. Indeed, no witness statement makes any mention of Terence’s movements whatsoever, other than to say he heard the direction. And all mention of him occurs after the Section 8 direction is described. That should take some of the sting out of the fish hook lobbed at the judge. Terence most certainly is on the scene prior to the issuing of the Section 8 direction. However, in the prosecution’s narrative, he doesn’t become an object of interest until after the direction is given. In other words, there’s no fucking evidence whatsoever that suggests that Terence committed an offence, there isn’t even any to justify a suspicion against him. That the case was over wouldn’t have been that obvious at this particular point. Terence used the cross-examination of Garda Prendergast, to make it very apparent.

I’m getting ahead of myself…

“Rape” McHale agreed with Terence that the Public Order Act does not allow a garda to arrest a person for obstruction. The garda’s only pathway is to issue a Section 8 direction and to perform an arrest then, if that doesn’t remedy the situation.

McHale was asked about his use of force. It was put to him that the Public Order Act clearly says that a garda can arrest someone for failing or refusing to comply with a Section 8 direction. But it makes no mention of the use of force being an alternative. “Rape” made lots of noise but failed to supply a reason for the use of force.

It was put to the garda, and he agreed, that Terence had not been arrested for more than 20 minutes after he’d issued the Section 8 direction. In other words, “Rape” and comrades had spent the time trying to physically conclude the situation. Thus proving that his earlier assertion, that the video evidence showed Terence being arrested, was perjury.

In the December trial, Terence had put it to “Rape” that he’d had no lawful authority to justify the use of force. McHale told the chimp that “we had to move them…” Blah, blah and blah. We were hoping that we could force the same words from his maw this time too, along with whatever bullshit tale to justify them, he’d concocted in the meantime. The objective being that Terence would get to put it to him that we were not disputing that the violence was compulsion based, that what we were getting at was that there’s a massive difference between a lawful compulsion and a mental one.

So, after asking Garda “Rape” McHale: “Can you tell this court, in what way did this situation resemble a situation where you are lawfully justified in using force?”, we were expecting to finish his testimony with an examination of his compulsions. But his answer, given to the president of the Circuit Court, stopped us in our tracks. So much so, that Terence declared that there were no more questions.

McHale told Judge Groarke that arresting someone was to use force and basically that the force he’d used was lesser and was preferred to arresting someone. I absolutely believe that “Rape” actually sees it this way. And I honestly believed that this case would provide evidence that this was the modus operandi of the gardaí. But I though it’d have to be proven and argued. I didn’t even fantasise that “Rape” McHale would volunteer it. I’ll have a lot more to say on this after I deal with the second witness, Garda Shane Prendergast.

Garda Prendergast agreed that he’d been on the scene for more than an hour before “Rape” McHale arrived with his pet for the day, Garda Quinn and his trusty video camera.

During that hour or so, nobody was issued any direction to leave. Nobody was accused of obstructing a garda doing his duty. Nobody attacked or made any threatening moves towards any member of the force. It was further established that those in the nearby solidarity camp and those who had business there, were not forbidden from leaving the camp. Garda Prendergast agreed that people were coming and going, from and to the camp and that some of them even chatted with him. There was no need to be throwing them around at this point.

After about an hour, the pathogen arrived, Garda “Rape” McHale. Within minutes, after “Rape” issues the one and only Section 8 direction, the peaceful setting is replaced with gardaí beating pedestrians and protesters alike, with the formerly friendly and chatty Garda Prendergast taking a very active part. Garda “Rape” McHale described the pathogen, for the judge, and Prendergast’s immediate infection shows that the issue is endemic, infectious and is systemic rather than an isolated aberration, with a cause from outside the force. I’ll get into the root of this very shortly.

It was put to the arresting garda that he’d not arrested Terence for some twenty or so minutes, after the first instance of putting hands on him, that had been captured in the video evidence. Prendergast agreed.

It was put to Garda Prendergast, that Terence had the right to defend himself from the moment the garda had first put hands on him, using whatever reasonable force was necessary to put a stop to him. Prendergast didn’t agree.

It was put to the garda that Terence hadn’t acted to defend himself. The garda told the judge that Terence had resisted being “pushed” by him, but that he’d kept his arms and hands by his sides.

It was put to Garda Prendergast that if Terence had acted to defend himself, that the reaction of his comrades would have been bloody and brutal. Garda Prendergast immediately told the judge that this was not correct. Thus showing that he’s either a mind reader or that it’s garda instinct to defend fellow gardaí, no matter what the cost.

This line of investigation was continued by Terence sticking it to Prendergast: “I put it to you, that of the two of us, only one of us acted to defend the peace and it wasn’t you.” Prendergast responded by gaping at Terence. Neither the judge nor the prosecution had anything to say on it either.

This very un-garda-friendly line of examination concluded with Terence again sticking it to Prendergast: “I put it to you, that by the time you tired of the horseplay and decided to arrest me, that you had long since lost any lawful or moral authority to act as a garda.” No response to this either.

Seeing that he wanted to establish himself as a side-show attraction, Terence skipped ahead to the mind reading question, to end the examination in as contemptuous a way as possible.

“What is it that makes you conclude that Garda McHale suspected that I had committed an offence, when he approached the sitting people and not myself?”

The Chief State Solicitor was on his feet, objecting. The judge agreed. But you could see that the point had made its mark. Terrence, after getting Prendergast to agree that he’d arrived after the Section 8 direction (just for the shits and giggles of it), declared no more questions. Judge Groarke, before the prosecution could call, if it wanted to call, its third witness, Garda Quinn, demanded paperwork from the Chief State Solicitor. I was saddened. At this point Garda Quinn would have served no more purpose other than to act as entertainment for me. Terence had promised me this when we decided to work together. Anyhow, Judge Groarke looked at the paperwork and barked at the Chief State Solicitor a couple of times, who miaowed back. After this, Judge Groarke declared: “I’m granting your appeal Mr Conway.” And that, as they say, was that.

Thanks to two very special whistleblowers, garda whistleblowers, “garda discretion” has become a topic for public discourse.

Discretion is at the heart of the sickness here. When Superintendent Joe Gannon first went to Rossport, he took violence with him. He initiated a garda policy in the area, that re-wrote Irish legislation, without recourse to the legislature. He initiated a policy of no arrests. When a garda believes that a person has committed an offence, under the Public Order Act, the garda has the discretion to decide to arrest or not arrest that person. It’s slightly different for a Section 9 offence of wilful obstruction, a garda must give the person concerned an opportunity to leave the area and then may arrest the person if they fail to comply with the direction to leave. Either way, the power to arrest is discretionary. When Gannon removed this discretion, he left no alternative, the gardaí had to resort to the use of force to solve situations. And by god, use it they did. Gannon was also at the heart of the incident on McGrath’s Pier. The GSOC, not having the power to investigate the corruption of garda policy, had to make do with recommending to the Garda Commissioner, that Gannon be disciplined. The Commissioner told the GSOC to go fuck itself. They did as they were told.

This policy was implemented, according to Gannon, to ensure that no more martyrs emerged from the ranks of Shell to Sea. Thanks to the confession of Garda “Rape” McHale, to the president of the Circuit Court and the example of Garda Prendergast being infected and acting on it, we have compelling proof of systemic corruption. More to the point, the president of the Circuit Court has in no uncertain terms, been made aware of it. What’s he going to do about it?

Aside from Judge Groarke possibly not giving a shit, isn’t the Chief State Solicitor bound by his code of ethics, to report such a matter to the DPP?

Should I hold my breath?

Circumventing circuses
Lamenting in protest
To visible police
Presence sponsored fear
Battalions of riot police
With rubber bullet kisses
Baton courtesies
Service with a smile

[From “Deer Dance” by System of a Down]

This is a piece that I’ve awaited the opportunity to write forever.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in the tale at many diverse levels and can thus narrate it in a way that is both broad and very focussed. I’m a busy little subversive!

Despite my boast above, it’s impossible to feel unique or special. It is my peers in this tale who are deserving of respect. They were the ones who bore the brunt of the blowback that facilitates the privilege I have in putting this piece of history into words.

It’s an amazing story. Imagine, if you will, a bunch of resolute and active republicans (and others) offering an Irish judge a thunderous round of applause, in an Irish courtroom. That’s the end of the tale and that’s why I’m telling it first. You might consider it a spoiler. I promise you it’s not. There’s another piece of information missing that will take its impact from the unbelievable, to the absolutely amazing.

It all kicked off innocently enough. I was talking with my friend, Raymond, it was the 19th or 20th of May, 2011. We were chatting about some of the videos that had appeared, of certain arrests made when Elizabeth came to town. Steven Bennett was all over Youtube. He’d been arrested whilst taking pictures of the goings on. Another mental video (that we’re unable to find – by the time we knew that it was needed, it’d long since disappeared from Youtube) showed a gentleman being very violently arrested by multiple gardaí. It also showed a young woman protesting about the violence of the arrest. She was arrested too, none too gently either. Raymond told me that I knew the young man in the video; Sofian Murphy, a young activist I’ve a lot of respect for. I couldn’t fathom him doing anything that warranted that type of treatment by the gardaí. Anyhow, time passed, both cases, against Steven and Sofian were struck out, so I let the matter drop from my mind. The prosecution had failed to honour the Court’s order for the evidence to be handed over to the defendants.

So, like I said, I forgot about the matter. One bright day in late September or early October, the following year, I was in the company of Madam K and we were into some form of devilment or other. We met a young lady who knew Madam K. She was familiar to me, I’d seen a tiny part of her performance for Occupy Dame Street and if talk was to be believed, she was an up and coming star. Anyhow, we learned that she’d been arrested too, on the day in question, 17th May 2011. It clicked with me instantly: she’d been the lady who’d been bodily hauled by the gardaí because she’d dared to be disgusted at the violence used against Sofian, during his arrest. The young lady said that the Evening Herald had recently published an article that claimed that she was being prosecuted in the matter. She’d at that time, not received a summons. She asked that I meet up with her and her manager, to discuss some possibilities.

I was appalled. This was a very dirty trick by the State. There are only a few possibilities with regard to the origin of the article in the Herald. The DPP told them, the gardaí told them or someone involved in processing the summons to be, told them. The young lady in question who had secured one of the best known managers on the planet, was due to head to the US to perform in some pretty prestigious events and venues. Get a conviction, especially when the conviction has to do with protest, it can be very hard to get into the US…

The young lady and her manager procured some professional legal help and I went in search of evidence and eye witnesses. With the help of Raymond, this was accomplished in short order. I found out that the video where I’d seen her protest against the violence of Sofian’s arrest had disappeared at this point. Raymond then went about attending each of the mention dates in Court, once the summons had been served and the matter commenced. I was up to my neck in other stuff at the time and practically every mention date coincided with other events of importance.

Raymond caught up with Steven Bennett and Sofian Murphy. Their cases had come back from the dead too. Steven was representing himself. As a longtime and experienced activist, he knows his way around a courtroom. He’d recently succeeded in defending himself in another case and he was keen to do the same in this one. He asked if Raymond and myself would lend a hand in this one, as the amount of evidence to consider was going to be colossal. I became his McKenzie.

A little while later, in December of 2012, I got a call from Raymond. We needed to hook up. We’d had a Gary Doyle order complied with and had received close to 80 statements, pictures and video evidence that spanned 12 DVDs. We had to decide how to analyse everything and how to distribute the workload. That was easy I thought, Raymond could do it! As it turned out, that’s not too far from what actually happened.

Raymond scanned all the documents, one of which was a forensics report on a bomb and he used OCR software on the material that it could be used on. The result was an extensive database of evidence that was searchable. This in turn facilitated a forensic examination of these documents that would have completely frustrated an eyes-only approach. All sorts of interesting patterns and pictures started to appear. Way more about that later!

At the same time, Raymond was trying to examine and copy the video evidence contained on the 12 DVDs. He informed myself and Steven that more than half of the discs were unreadable. He said that the fact that the discs were unreadable was the fault of whoever produced them. When Raymond tells you something like this your ears prick up. Raymond’s an expert on optical media and I doubt that there are many with his degree of expertise in the country. He was a leading expert on the matter for a major software multi-national at one point. So like I said, when he says there’s a problem, that’s provably the fault of the State, you bloody well listen.

I want to step backwards in time at this point. So that I might provide the framework to the vista that provided a backdrop to what I was looking at. Normally I look at cases in isolation. This particular case cannot be looked at in that fashion. When one looks at this case in isolation, one only sees the associated unfairness of it. When looked at in tandem with what was happening at the time of Elizabeth’s trespass, the State’s malfeasance is clear and its obvious deliberation cries out for examination and a response.

There’s a thing in law that’s known as “reasonable suspicion.” Most people are familiar with it, it’s often called “probable cause” in movies etc. There are many ways to consider reasonable suspicion. To me, it’s very simple. Without reasonable suspicion the gardaí could demand identification upon a whim or a desire. They could search you. They could detain you. There are certain situations however, where the State can and does suspend basic liberties. A Mandatory Alcohol Testing checkpoint (a MAT checkpoint) for example. However, the suspension of a need for there to be a reasonable suspicion is a very solemn matter and an inspector must sign a document that precisely defines the geographical location of the checkpoint and this document must be produced in court in any prosecution that the checkpoint facilitates.

I made a video with Madam K when the queen came to town. We’ve shown how the Public Order Act was misused to suspend these basic freedoms, specifically Section 21. Section 21 requires a reasonable suspicion to search somebody. People were conned into believing that the gardaí had a right to demand that they submit to a search. We’ve gone into this in more detail and you see it here:

The point is that the State had the gardaí ensure that anyone who was not pleased to have the British queen here was not getting anywhere near her route and destination. Most other folks, who were just going about their lawful business also, were caught up in this fascism too, as they were subjected to arbitrary stops and searches. The gardaí violated basic rights and ethnically cleansed the centre of Dublin to ensure that Lizzie wasn’t upset by anything she might see. The whole thing was a lie. The picture presented was one of reconciliation and of acceptance. The true picture was that a bunch of thugs, using batons, pepper spray, fists and crimes, acted to prevent a demonstration that would have established in no uncertain terms that Lizzie was not welcome in Dublin.

There was nearly a mini riot up at Dorset Street. The gardaí allowed that to peter out and go on its merry way. They then picked on those who hadn’t been, for the very most part, involved in the fun and games. Arrests followed.

Elsewhere, Madam K was getting hassled for having the audacity to be carrying a tiny Irish flag. I was meandering somewhere else, we’d split up to gather as much footage as possible, and I was filming various instances of rights violations and harassment.

Steven Bennett was attempting to make his way to join Éirígí in their protest. Madam K and I also planned to join them. We’d caught up with them earlier in the day beside the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell street. At that time I filmed Madam K give a loud and very nuanced rendition of “God Save the Queen,” for what we suspected was either a group of British agents or some deep-cover gardaí in the vicinity. After that, we retired to the Kylemore for some much needed coffee. We figured that we had plenty of time to rejoin Éirígí at the Spire. We figured wrong. All hell broke loose as the gardaí effectively kettled the group. Shortly after this, a large crowd could be heard coming up Henry Street, chanting various anti-queen slogans as they marched to join their comrades at the Spire. The gardaí quickly mobilised to completely block off and separate Henry Street from O’Connell Street. As the new arrivals came face to face with the garda blockage at Henry Street, the good folks at the Spire made their move. They quickly moved towards Henry Street and they expertly and efficiently executed a wedge manoeuvre, forcing their way out of the kettle and straight through the centre of the gardaí blocking their access to Henry Street. I filmed flags, banners and the odd garda hat fly into the air as the gardaí tried for all their worth to batter and injure the activists. Brian Leeson and his comrades didn’t leave one single activist behind as they broke through and joined their friends on the other side.

From there, Éirígí and their supporters made their way to Parnell Square. That’s where myself, Madam K and a host of other activists joined them later, before the British monarch’s arrival. We all knew that Éirígí intended to protest without violence. That’s why most activists joined them on the day. Éirígí were true to their word and they ejected the few people who threw stuff at the gardaí as the car bearing Lizzie made its way up O’Connell Street. They ejected them immediately. Despite this I witnessed many Éirígí activists abused by gardaí over the next few days.

The gardaí have long held a particular dislike for republicans, I was reminded of that by all of this. The full picture of what was going on now serves me as the defining example, any time I contemplate the depth of this prejudice.

The gardaí allege that Steven Bennett was arrested after he failed or refused to comply with a direction given to him under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. The alleged direction was that he immediately leave the area. It was allegedly broadcast from a loudspeaker on a garda van and it was allegedly issued by a garda who was allegedly acting under the orders of his superior to broadcast the demand. There is no evidence whatsoever, in any of the garda evidence, that either the superior officer or the garda who shouted the demand, even saw Steven, much less that either of them saw him engaging in behaviour that would have allowed them to make the Section 8 demand. In other words, there’s not a scintilla of garda evidence to suggest that the gardaí had any business in ordering Steven away from the area and similarly, there’s nothing to suggest that Steven was obliged, legally or otherwise, to leave the area, even if he had heard the alleged order. We felt that if this matter had gone to court, that this argument alone would have sufficed to vindicate him. Of course that’s just one of a bunch of arguments that would have done the job. I’d also like to add that this pattern of the gardaí misusing the Public Order Act, constituted the evidence to be used against the majority of those who were persecuted by the DPP in this matter. It’s my humble opinion that had these farces gone to trial, that they’d all have been thrown out, if a reasonable judge got to try them.

In the video that Steven has on his Youtube channel, the video that’d he’d not have been allowed to show to the Court, you can see Steven is close to the wall of Whelan’s Hardware, photographing armoured gardaí as they march threateningly towards protesters. One of the armoured thugs assaults Steven. Immediately after that, Steven is grabbed by the thugs and dragged behind them where lots of gardaí can be seen to jump on him. At this point his camera/phone was dropped by him and picked up by a garda. The camera/phone has not been seen or heard from since. There is no demand to leave the area, emanating from a garda van to be heard on this video.

The prisoner was eventually placed in a transport and conveyed to the Bridewell garda station. He was searched and separated from his remaining belongings, including a €50 note whose company he was never to enjoy again.

It wasn’t long until the veteran campaigner realised that this was no ordinary arrest. Shortly after this realisation began to dawn on him, he was taken outside to another transport and brought to Cloverhill where he was locked up with a few other prisoners. He had no idea what crimes the other prisoners were alleged to have committed, nobody was saying much and there was an uneasy quiet.

Later in the evening Steven, along with a number of other prisoners arrested in similar circumstances, were paraded before Justice Patrick Clyne. Steven wasn’t very impressed with the judge at the time. Another defendant told me that the judge had been a “right prick.” Steven’s bail was set at €300. He obviously didn’t have that, indeed, he had €50 less than he thought he had. He had to spend a sleepless night in a cell in Cloverhill. His daughter arrived the next morning, paid his bail and rescued her father. On top of this, Steven was banned from many areas in Dublin. At the time, Steven was attending a series of meetings with “Real Democracy Now.” He wanted to attend but now he couldn’t. Steven was one of the first people to arrive at Dame Street and Real Democracy Now arrived shortly after to form the Occupation of Dame Street. When the charges against him eventually died and were subsequently resurrected, there was no application to reimpose these punitive bail conditions. This goes to show the temperament of the State, in its initial reaction to those who’d been arrested and associated with disputing the welcome given to Lizzie. Had there been such an application, it would have been fought with a clarity of mind that Steven wasn’t afforded at the time of setting the initial bail conditions. It’s quite likely that had this argument ensued, Steven would have won it, considering the fact that the Court was eventually disposed to referring to all of the charges against all of the defendants as “trivial matters.”

From the garda perspective, when this matter first went to court, this was a massively complex issue with hundreds of gardaí involved and the security and reputation of the State at stake. To Steven, it was a matter of simplicity; a violation of his basic rights. The judge granted Gary Doyle orders. A Gary Doyle order is similar to a discovery order in civil litigation. The State must hand over copies of all evidence they have in relation to the defendant’s alleged crime. Time and time again, the State failed to hand over this material, citing the alleged complexity of the matter as the reason for the failure. Finally, when the time arrived to actually try the matters, for some of the defendants, the gardaí still had not complied with the Court’s order to produce the evidence. The judge, rightly at this point, threw each and every case out.

There is a law, the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act 1851, that states that a defendant must be brought before a magistrate, before six months have passed from the date of the alleged offence. Modern legislation has amended this to ensure that a summons must be applied for before the six month limit in all matters of summary judgement. In other words, in a District Court prosecution, if it proceeds on foot of a summons, the summons must have been applied for within the six month time limit.

Sergeant Waters, who seems to have had little to do with the matter to this point, applied for summonses, one day before the six month time limit was due to elapse. I must say that it is not my intention to cast any shadows on Sergeant Waters’ character. I had few dealings with him. But where our paths did cross I found him to be pleasant and decent minded (more about that later). The cases were running again, despite the fact that each and every defendant thought the matter finished.

Many months after all the cases were thrown out, as I’ve already recounted, I encountered Miss Elaine Harrington, aka Temper-Mental Miselayneous.

The State’s evidence against Elaine was that she’d been sitting on the ground, playing a bodhrán and was reciting poetry. They claimed that her poetry was incitement and that she was making “gang signs.” How she made these signs is unclear, what with playing the bodhrán. Anyhow, she was not charged with membership of an illegal organisation. The gang signs have not been described, so I’m at a loss and would welcome anyone out there to bring to my attention any example of one of these signs that would have relevance in Ireland. Elaine was not charged with incitement either.

There is no doubt that Elaine has a way with words and that she performs them in a way that demands notice and respect. But I do not hear or feel incitement. I find the evidence against Elaine to be highly provocative and thoroughly ignorant. And to be very blunt, I find this to be even more intolerable, given that it can be proven that the evidence against her, the most important evidence, is a complete and utter act of fabrication.

Elaine’s one and only offence on the day was that she was not afraid of the gardaí despite their brutality and that she was not prepared to stand silently by as a young man was brutalised by multiple thugs in armour.

When I met with Frank Murray, Elaine’s manager, he was very concerned about Elaine’s prospects, should she be convicted. Elaine was not present at this meeting so Frank was very frank in spelling out his hopes and dreams for her and his fears too. I might add that Frank is no amateur. Frank managed Kirsty McColl, the Pogues and Thin Lizzy to but touch on the influence this man has had on music. Indeed, in my days as a musician, I’d have given both my legs just for the opportunity to meet with him. It suffices to say that Elaine had a lot at stake and that the pressure put on her by the thoughts of having her dreams and accomplishments shattered must have been soul destroying.

The young man whose shameful arrest inspired Elaine Harrington to outrage was Sofian Murphy. I really like Sofian. He’s a gentleman, who every time I meet him, convinces me that he’s never coming up for air! He’s always going somewhere or coming from somewhere to go somewhere else. He’s a very affable man, with a keen social conscience, who’ll offer a helping hand wherever and whenever it’s needed, regardless as to what it might cost him.

According to garda evidence, he’s a man to be feared. According to their evidence, he’s the type of guy who will attack you with a bicycle in one hand and a steel garda barricade in the other. I’d guess that Sofian weighs less than 10 stone…

The most compelling evidence that the State had against Sofian was a truck load of video evidence. The most compelling part of this evidence is where Sofian, on his bicycle, stops right in front of a garda van that is just about to do a 180º turn and rapidly exit the area, following a number of other garda vans who’d done likewise. There was a large number of civilians present, some of them throwing stuff at the gardaí in front of them. These garda vans had pulled in behind the crowd and had rapidly reassessed their planning. It cannot be disputed that when Sofian came to a stop, that some folks attacked the garda van with kicks, wallops and debris. The video shows Sofian moving and the garda van is seen to accelerate into a right turn that was very lucky not to have resulted in either a casualty or a serious injury to either Sofian or the others in the immediate vicinity. As the van exits the camera’s view, a bicycle can be seen to be flying at the van and bouncing off the side of it. The bicycle in question, sailed over Sofian’s head to accomplish this. Sofian was still on his own bike at the time. Sofian was not charged with obstruction.

On top of that, no garda statement mentions this incident in evidence against Sofian.

Another way to see this particular footage, to add a full range of possibilities, is that Sofian was cycling away from what was becoming a potentially hazardous situation. He was nearly hit by the garda van as it attempted its illegal manoeuvre. He stopped to remonstrate with the idiots who nearly ploughed into him. Seeing the potential hazard that was developing for the gardaí as people attacked the van, he quickly turned his bicycle and attempted to get out of the way.

Short of that particular incident, I see nothing whatsoever to suggest that Sofian needed to be prosecuted. Quite a few garda statements disagree with this view, but there’s nothing with regard to video evidence to support their allegations.

I spoke with Diarmuid Breatnach, who’d been in the vicinity of Sofian’s arrest. He didn’t see the actual arrest, but he’d witnessed bodies being bundled into vans. A few minutes after Sofian was arrested, a resident of the area approached a garda who was close to the scene of the arrest. The resident, a lady, was carrying a running shoe, a hat and a bicycle lock. She informed the garda that the items belonged to the gentleman who’d just been arrested. The garda told her to bin them. Diarmuid asked her for the items and told her that he’d return them to their owner. He subsequently made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman Paintjob and the complaint, as expected, went nowhere. The Ombudsman’s reply to Diarmuid was that the complaint “ is inadmissible on the grounds that the behaviour alleged is not of such a nature that it would, if proved, amount to a breach of Garda discipline.” The items were returned to Sofian at a later date, after Diarmuid had gone to a lot of trouble to ascertain who owned them. The running shoe was of no use to him as its partner had been taken from him when he arrived at the garda station. He was given some footware that was many sizes too large. The bicycle lock was of little use to him. At the time of his arrest, the gardaí just left the bicycle where it fell. To quote Diarmuid on this widespread and disturbing practice: “Apparently there is nothing wrong in a Garda officer not only refusing to take charge of the property of a person he has arrested on the street but in addition instructing a member of the public to dispose of it.”

.

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Don’t open your eyes you won’t like what you see
The blind have been blessed with security
Don’t open your eyes take it from me
I have found
You can find
Happiness in slavery

[From “Happiness in Slavery” by Nine Inch Nails]

In January of this year, I attended one of the few mention dates that I’d attended since this whole sorry debacle started.

Judge Clyne, the judge who’d initially imposed bail conditions on the some eight defendants present was back for the first time, since that time. He was quite surprised and just as concerned that these matters were still before the Court. A barrister for one of the defendants complained to the judge that she had still not received copies of pepper spray reports from the State. The DPP claimed that these reports were privileged. The argument then shifted to the delay in prosecuting these matters. One of the barristers for one of the defendants made an application to have the matter concerning his client struck out because of the monumental delay. He cited relevant case law and developed his argument. Judge Clyne was quite familiar with the case law and went on to explain the meanings of judicial delay, prosecutorial delay and systemic delay, for the knowledge of those in the courtroom. The DPP attempted a counter argument that was long winded, repetitive and in my opinion, very far off the mark. Judge Clyne decided at this point that it’d be fairer for everyone concerned (especially the DPP) if a hearing was convened where everyone would get to make an argument regarding delay and prejudice, general and specific. He proposed a date. Judge Clyne is a moveable judge and his schedule is mental, so there were only a few possibilities available. A date that was fixed didn’t suit Steven at all. Elaine Harrington had been separated from the group at an earlier point and her trial date had been fixed. It was important, Steven, Raymond and I had concluded, that Steven’s trial and her trial should be heard at the same time, so that certain defences would become available, that in other circumstances would not have been usable or as effective. Steven was due to make an application to have his hearing at the same time as Elaine’s. But this changed absolutely everything. Instead Steven made an application that the Judge hear arguments prior to the date of Elaine’s trial, so that he’d not be prejudiced by either having to miss out on the defences available via Elaine’s trial, or be forced to miss the opportunity to take part in the hearing that Judge Clyne had convened. The judge said to the DPP: “I understand that, do you?” once Steven had made his application. This pre-empted the DPP from needlessly and ineffectively attacking Steven’s argument, a preoccupation with her that was becoming evident to all. The judge fixed a suitable date and all was set. The added bonus was that now Elaine’s legal team would be able to take part in the special hearing, once they’d made a motion to set aside her hearing date.

On the next day there were nine defendants.

Unfortunately there was no Judge Clyne. Instead we had Judge Coughlan. I’ve seen Coughlan in action lots of times and would describe his judicial ability by describing him as an arsehole. Indeed, only last month, Coughlan appeared in a Youtube video filmed by some renegade or other where the good Judge spends most of his time screaming at a defendant to “shut up.” For good measure, the judge didn’t allow the defendant the opportunity to mount a defence before moving to convict him. The barristers for the other defendants didn’t want Coughlan to hear their arguments because Judge Clyne had taken charge of the matter and had already heard partial arguments. We didn’t want Coughlan to hear the arguments for different reasons, having to do with what we thought of him. Coughlan agreed to not hear the matter despite an impassioned argument from the DPP that basically stated that if we were so concerned about delay that we’d not be introducing it ourselves. In fairness to the DPP, this was best argument she had to offer, in all her mindless rhetoric, including her alleged arguments at the actual hearing.

As Judge Coughlan was about to leave, Raymond leaned over and whispered to me the name of a defendant who’d long since been separated from the main group and whose address we were unaware of. “Ah fuck!” I thought to myself. It was too late to have a chat with Steven and have him make an application, the judge was nearly out of the room. I stood and addressed the judge’s back. He turned around and stared at me. I asked him if he’d remind the DPP that there was a defendant and his legal representatives who were unaware of the special hearing and that they might like to be made aware of it. I addressed the judge as I felt it might be unwise to approach the DPP directly. She might well have attempted to have me charged for interfering.

The DPP immediately went on the offensive. She launched into the right of legal representatives to determine, along with their clients, all legal strategies and pursuits. The judge began to parrot her waffle at me in rebuke. Sergeant Waters must have got my point, that being that legal practitioners and their clients cannot make any determinations regarding matters they are ignorant of. He declared at this point that he’d ensure that the defendant and his representatives knew of the upcoming hearing. This didn’t phase Coughlan at all, he just continued to rant his nonsense at me. My job accomplished, I sat down in the middle of his tirade. Fuck him. Aint nobody paying me to listen to his shit. And there’s no wage that’d cover it.

I was impressed with the Sergeant’s decency, especially since he displayed it at a time when it was going against Coughlan and the DPP.

The next sitting, still no Judge Clyne. The DPP made the same stupid argument and was ignored. The date was fixed for the 12th of April in Court 44 of the Bridewell.

Before I go into the details of the hearing itself, which I promise will be relatively short, I want to bring up some outstanding issues.

Steven had his argument prepared at the time that Judge Clyne had first failed to appear. It was written down, so I’m in a position to publish it now, here it is (I should add that the second part of the first argument was not included at this time. I was talking to a friend of mine, one of the barristers for one of the other defendants. I was given some new case law and this is what facilitated the second part of the first argument.):

1. Judge, in my first application I’m relying on the matters discussed on pages 9, 10 and 11 of the McFarlane case.

The court initially struck out these present cases because of blameworthy delay. I did not at any point inform the court of any prejudice that hindered my ability to present a defence. It is therefore my submission that the court presumed prejudice on my behalf, as is described in the pages of the McFarlane judgement that I have indicated to you.

It is my understanding, that in proceeding with these cases, that the court is in effect, overturning the Court’s earlier judgement that presumed a prejudice and it is my understanding that this court does not have the jurisdiction to overturn a decision of a fellow District Court judge. In other words Judge, I say this matter is improperly before the Court and that the Prosecution should have applied to the High Court to overturn the District Court’s presumption of prejudice before attempting to resurrect this dead thing here.

To further this argument Judge, I shall approach the matter from another angle. This time, I shall rely on the ruling of Justice Herbert from the Judicial Review, Stephen Heaney v Judge Brady and the DPP, from 2007, with the judgement in same delivered in November in 2009.

Judge, after the matters presently before the court were struck out, the sergeant applied for new summonses, a day before the 6 month time limit elapsed, we’re told. We have also been told that there was subsequently a problem with these summonses, but we’re not told what the nature of that problem was. In any event, new summonses issued and here we are. From the scant details we do possess, one thing is very clear: The summonses applied for, a day before the 6 month limit, did not die a natural death. They did not lapse. On page 11 of the Heaney judgement we have the following:

The forgoing authorities establish that a District Judge who issued a summons on foot of a complaint made to him or her or to him within the statutory period of six months may, where that summons has not been served and has lapsed or been struck out, issue a fresh summons on a subsequent application made outside the period of six months, based upon the initial complaint having been made within that period. They also establish that an appropriate District Court Office which has issued a summons (whether inside or outside the statutory six-month period), on foot of an application made by an authorised person within the statutory period, may issue a fresh summons on a subsequent application by such a person outside the statutory period, provided that the original summons had not been served and had lapsed.

The current summonses have issued despite the fact that their predecessors did not lapse. The normal counter argument that says an appearance fixes any defect in a summons does not repair the fact that this matter is improperly before the Court.

2. My second application Judge, has to do with prejudice also. It is my belief that some of this prejudice applies generally to all the cases before the Court.

I found video evidence Judge, that’s now on my Youtube page, that I say establishes that my arrest was an unlawful arrest. Unfortunately for me Judge, I do not possess the original of this footage and due to the passage of time it is not available to me. Thus this footage is inadmissible. This has disabled my ability to defend myself to the point of unfairness. It also goes towards proving that I had possessions on me at the time of my arrest, that are not recorded on the custody record. I still have not recovered my possessions.

Furthermore Judge, the Court ordered the prosecution to turn over its relevant video evidence to the defendants. This evidence arrived on 12 discs Judge. Of those 12 discs, 7 of them were unreadable, due to improper labelling and for other reasons, the fault of the prosecution. Indeed, this improper labelling had the propensity to damage equipment that tried to read them. Of the 7, I have managed to have the contents of 2 of them recovered. To remedy this matter Judge, will require yet more delay. Delay that is prosecutorial, and it is blameworthy delay. Of the 7 discs of video footage I have access to, there are but a few seconds of the video evidence that is somewhat relevant to my case, the rest, the vast majority of it, is superfluous and irrelevant.

On the last occasion this Court sat we were informed that part of the delay experienced had to do with the complexities of the cases and co-ordinating garda witnesses.

The State has supplied me with 80 odd statements. Many of them are unsigned and are not dated. Of the statements that are signed and dated, it can be established that the statements were completed well before the commencement of the Winter of 2011. It would seem to me that garda co-ordination was complete before the year of 2012 had even begun.

Furthermore, and still on the matter of these statements. The vast majority of these statements have nothing whatsoever to do with my case. Indeed, included with the treasure trove supplied by the State, there is included a forensics report with regard to an explosive device and its associated statements. For the life of me Judge, I cannot establish any present case that this material is relevant to. It is superfluous. It is, I submit, only there in an attempt to add colour to the State’s alleged cases. On top of this Judge, forcing an untrained litigant to have to study material of no relevance, is an abuse of process and an attempt to abuse me. It forces delay, and this is the least of what it attempts to force, into my defence. When sifted Judge, the material relevant to my case is short, simple and straightforward. My case should take no more than 15 minutes or so to hear, as is the norm with such cases. The complexity the State speaks of is purely to do with adding superfluous material that adds unnecessary complexity and that’s where the alleged complexity arises.

Part of the evidence handed over by the State says that two pepper spray reports have been submitted by the gardaí. The State says that the reports themselves are privileged. I have case law here Judge, if the Court wishes to see it, that establishes that neither the DPP nor any other officer of the Court has the authority to declare any evidence privileged, that it is a matter for the presiding judge to decide, having examined the relevant evidence himself or herself.

In fairness Judge, I’m not claiming that either pepper spray report has any relevance in my case. On the other hand, the admission that the pepper spray reports exist, leads me to an interesting and very relevant conclusion. There is no admission of baton reports. It is my understanding Judge, and I’m sure the sergeant can correct me if I’m wrong, that when an officer draws his baton, it is mandatory that he or she produces a baton report. There is no acknowledgement of the existence of any baton report produced. There is no actual baton report supplied to me by the prosecution. Many of the statements handed over contain admissions that gardaí produced batons on the day in question. I require the reports and they have not been supplied, indeed there is no indication that they even exist. I require those reports for my defence and it seems to me that I should have received them already and that getting them at this stage will introduce yet more unfair delay into proceedings.

To conclude Judge, the MacFarlane case points out, as indeed you yourself pointed out on the last occasion, that the Court has much less tolerance for delay in cases that aren’t of an extremely serious nature. These cases Judge, despite the prosecution trying to paint them as very serious matters, what with forensic evidence of explosives etc. remain simple matters of public order that are about to drag into their third year due to malingering, inordinate and inexcusable delay.

Judge, I have made these submissions out of a sense of fairness and out of concern for the rights of my fellow defendants. I believe that it is proper that the Court be fully informed as to the nature of these cases. I therefore mean no disrespect whatsoever, when I withdraw each and every submission that I’ve made, in so far as they relate to me personally. Another thing this delay has compounded Judge, is an absolute sense of outrage. Despite the prejudice I believe I have established, I believe I can still defend my case and it is my explicit intent to wipe the floor with the prosecution and its witnesses. I ask you Judge, to allow my case to proceed so that I might fully clear my good name and not have to rely on a technicality to kill the case that would still leave a taint in as far as my good name is concerned. I realise the difficulty that this presents Judge, should you agree with my submissions, especially since I have argued to establish that this matter is improperly before the Court, but I see no alternative to my making of this request.

Thank you Judge.

Links to case law used:

The McFarlane Case: http://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IESC/2008/S7.html

The Heaney Case: http://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IEHC/2009/H485.html

The Shell Case (Only a judge can declare privilege): http://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IEHC/2006/H268.html

As can be seen, Steven was pursuing a very ballsy course of action.

I should point out that Steven only got to go into a tiny part of his argument, about the DVDs supplied by the State, with Judge Clyne. The rest of his arguments remain untested by the Court. The first part of the first argument would have been a controversial one. When the cases were initially binned, they were binned because the prosecution had failed to comply with the Gary Doyle order. The judge said nothing about delay and the Court would be very unlikely to want to guess at the Judge’s reasoning. We were going to argue that whether or not the Court agreed that it was essentially delay that had caused the cases to be binned, that the presumption of prejudice was self-evident and that regardless as to whether the Court considered delay to be the cause, that the result presumed prejudice and that the argument from that point onwards was a moot one.

The bomb. This story would be incomplete if I were to ignore this. It gives me a lot of pleasure to take the State’s intention to sensationalise the evidence against the defendants and use it to sensationalise the defendant’s victory instead.

There’s a forensics report. The bomb was apparently not intended to be a bomb. It was a type of device that was well known to be part of the republican arsenal. At the very same time gardaí have never seen a device like it before. Confused? Good! It was allegedly intended to be a firearm, but it was so badly constructed that it would have failed in this primary purpose, and thus, the bullet would have merely exploded instead, had the firing mechanism functioned. The first problem that this improvised firearm would have encountered was the lack of a metal barrel. The barrel of a gun allows for aim and provides that the forces produced during firing are controlled and they thrust the projectile in a specific direction, giving the bullet a greater range. Within reason, the longer the barrel the greater the range. The barrel of this particular weapon was manufactured out of flour, water and some other secret ingredients. Bread. Rather than have the weapon fire by means of depressing a trigger, this particular gun used a circuit board to act as a timer. In other words, the weapon would be more than useless if it was used defensively. Aside from its basic lack of functionality, this particular design flaw would have made the potential for an offensive action, at its very best, a very frustrating one.

Anyhow, the gardaí, once they’d assessed the lethality of this lead sandwich, had the army bomb disposal unit blow the shit out of it. The forensics report was compiled from a replica sandwich prepared by the gardaí.

Not one statement, or any other evidence suggests that any of the defendants had anything to do with, or any knowledge of this indigestion inducing baguette. The State planted this device into the evidence against the defendants. The State would have you believe that someone ordered a subordinate to “take a Bap and blow the fucking head off the queen!” The poor unfortunate thought their commander was referring to a tasty treat. The rest is histrionics.

There’s nothing to suggest that the gardaí didn’t plant the actual device. After all, they’ve plenty of form in planting explosives to both secure false convictions and gain undeserved praise and credit. In fact, this point has more relevance to the truth than any suggestion that this alleged evidence was relevant to the alleged crimes of Steven Bennett, or any of the other defendants. Remember, that this evidence was handed over on foot of a Gary Doyle order. It masquerades as relevant evidence, but in reality, it is an indictment of both the DPP and the gardaí.

There was another bullet too. Someone tried to shoot a sergeant by throwing it at the fucker. Republicans just aren’t what they used to be… The sergeant’s instinctive urge to gather and preserve evidence had him pick it up and immediately hand the round around to his subordinates so that they could get their trotters all over it and destroy any potential to collect fingerprint evidence or any other forensic material. Like the sandwich, there’s no suggestion that this fuck up of the highest calibre had any relevance to any of the defendants’ cases.

The half of the video evidence that could be viewed confirmed a long held belief. When gardaí using video cameras or pole-mounted street cameras film an incident, they almost always pan the camera away from the scene when the suspect is being arrested. For the very most part, the camera is panned to something of no evidential value whatsoever, dead space. It is practically unassailable, the argument that suggests that gardaí do not want to gather evidence of arrests. The reasoning behind this particular reluctance is self-evident and it is a matter that requires urgent attention.

RTE supplied some footage to the gardaí. Some of this footage was relevant in Steven’s case, though it went nowhere in as far as showing any wrongdoing on his part. When the State hands over video material, it must be a copy of the original and it must not be edited footage. The RTE footage can be seen to be fastforwarded at one point, when it’s played. There’s plenty of other material on it that shows that it was most certainly edited before it was given to gardaí. Also, there’s no statement from the RTE employee who allegedly copied the footage and gave it to the gardaí. In other words, this alleged evidence would have been disallowed. And Steven’s case wasn’t the only case it was allegedly relevant to.

Here’s the report that Raymond compiled regarding the faults with regard to the DVDs handed over to Steven:

Discs Info

RTE –

Drive used = Pioneer DVR-116D

Disc – Maxell DVD-R

Menu – NTSC, Video content – PAL

Structure of disc implies DVD VR Format (a DVD recording format that allows for the recording of ongoing video footage on a singe disc). This can be seen by the inclusion of the VIDEO_RM folder in the root directory (I don’t think that is part of the standard but a common feature none-the-less).

This format also allows you to edit the video directly from the disc, so you can delete certain parts, rewind, fast forward and other editing options. DVD VR formats allow you to add new video, change menus, add chapters, split clip, remove video segments and more.

It’s normally used with DVD-RW, DVD-RAM or DVD+RW discs (i.e. re-writeable).

It’s a format that is meant to be read on the same player that created the disc, it’s difficult to confirm if it will work on other drives. The resulting media are not DVD-Video compliant, and will not play back in some DVD-Video players.

DVD-VR is non-DVD-Video, special use for editing, and can only be played back on similar recorders, and sometimes players that also support VCD/SVCD formats. The video can use bitrates and resolutions not supported on DVD-Video. The use of DVD-VR and DVD-RAM for video, in my opinion, should have never been implemented due to the confusion it causes and lack of playability in DVD-Video players. It is not something that should be adopted for evidence in court.

DVD+VR is a subset of DVD-Video. The creation of DVD+VR was to bridge a gap between “Video Mode” (DVD-Video) and “VR Mode” (DVD-VR) found on DVD recorders (DVD-R and DVD-RW media). However, this has largely failed because DVD+VR made discs have a tendency to corrupt themselves during the editing process (IFO damage). It appears that the RTE disc has errors in the IFO files but I have not ascertained if this is the cause yet.

This disc also appears to be of edited footage rather than the expected original. e.g. between 5.00 and 6.00 minutes in the same person is carried out by his limbs from the crowd by the gardai 3 times. The video also slows down, it appears to rewind. At 39.45 minutes the video changes to footage shoot earlier in the day at a different location – The spire at O’Connell Street, after starting off on Dorset street later in the afternoon. At around 1 hr and 6 minutes into the footage the video goes into fast forward, showing different locations until the end of the footage.

Disc labelled RC (2) –

Unreadable on two optical drives. Cannot even confirm format (standard) used.

Discs labelled KK2; KK1; McMillan;PH6 – Discs with problematic physical stickered labels –

Notified the defendant by phone of concerns regarding these discs – I have very serious concerns that the labels on these discs may cause defects to the discs and the optical drive they are in if someone attempts to use them.

Feeling under pressure due to time constraints from the handoff at the latest mention date in December, and not wanting anyone else to risk using them, I decided to try one of them, after making the phone call to the defendant, warning him that it is likely to irretrievably impair the optical drive in the computer. Subsequently, on testing it in the drive, there was severe vibration and the label partially broke off at high speed. The optical drive was damaged, destroying it.

All the discs I checked had problems of one type or another but this aspect, the awful quality of the labelling, was the single worst issue, it was likely to cause phyiscal harm to any machine that they were used in. At best it was sheer ignorant stupidity, lacking any basic intelligence or common sense, at worst, it was a deliberate attempt at sabotage or injury.

This type of problem is known as ‘unbalance’ and is a fundamental aspect of disc quality control. Disc unbalance causes the disc and drive to vibrate. This vibration causes the track location to shift at moderate amounts of unbalance, transferring the rotational frequency into the radial servo channel. Severe vibration at high speed can permanently damage the spindle motor bearings.

Unbalance is caused by an uneven distribution of mass around the disc, e.g. Offset of the centre hole can cause unbalance as can an outer rim that is not perfectly centered or not circular in shape. Slight variations in thickness of a disc or an asymmetric label also results in unbalance. Dynamic unbalance of less than 0.04N (Newtons) [or around 0.009 pounds of force] is required by the Red Book for 120mm diameter audio discs rotating at 600rpm for instance. Since radial force increases as the square of the speed, 0.04N at 600rpm translates to 21.6N or 4.86 pounds at 24x. A 24x CD drive is spinning at 14,000 rpm, this results in high radial forces on the bearings of the optical drive.

IW – Similar problems to RTE disc. Appears to be DVD-VR and has the problems associated with that format. IW and RTE also have multiple recordings of the same footage.

Finally, before I get to the matter of the hearing, I want to talk about the slimy thug who arrested Steven and Elaine. Yup, they were both arrested by the same pig. This particular piece of filth also arrested a third gentleman, Donal Dunne. Garda Alan Carroll of Santry Garda station prepared three sworn statements for the three prosecutions. Each of the three statements are identical, excepting where Carroll copied and pasted in the names and identifying details of each of the three defendants. Hence the reason we wanted Steven’s case to be tried at the same time as Elaine’s, so that we could confront him with his manufactured evidence. Each defendant was arrested at 16.40pm. Each defendant allegedly “… also resisted arrest punched and kicked out on a number of occasions and was shouting verbal abuse…” The circumstances leading to each arrest are identical in all three statements, despite the actual circumstances being vastly different, not to mention that the times of the arrests were obviously different too.

If even one of the statements was telling the truth, one would have to guess at which defendant Carroll was referring to. This would be a guess based on the balance of probabilities and it is a standard far lower than the standard that requires that the case be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

This act of manufacturing evidence was a wilful and deliberate act. Carroll even went to the trouble of ensuring that Elaine was referred to as “she” to distinguish from where he referred to Steven and the other defendant as “he.”

.

.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want –
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Quick, send in the clowns.

[From “Send in the Clowns” by Stephen Sondheim]

On April 12th I arrived at the Bridewell court a little after 10.00am. Steven and Raymond were already there. We rapidly ascertained that Judge Clyne would be present. The barristers for the other defendants were happy to allow Steven make his applications first. We were all set and chomping at the bit to hit these cases with a shovel over the back of the head.

The alleged offences had been committed on the 17th of May 2011. We were now nearly into the third year of prosecuting them.

Clyne was in fine form. His jokes were funny, apt and not calculated to cause offence or humiliation. He dealt with the cases in front of him efficiently and fairly. I found him to be very agile mentally and very quick on the uptake. If he is consistent in this approach and I’ve no reason thus far to think otherwise, I’d consider him to be one of less than a handful of judges in the District Court who understands the job and is competent at doing it.

The cases before the court continued up until shortly after 12.30pm. Then we were called.

One of the barristers immediately asked the Judge to hear Steven’s applications first. He also reminded him that Steven was a lay litigant and that he was being helped by myself, his McKenzie Friend. The judge was having none of it. He wanted to hear professional arguments first and Steven could add anything that he thought had been missed afterwards. Dashed was our hope of the shovel blow. But we need not have worried. Steven threw the last punch anyway!

The judge also pointed out to Steven that I was there to whisper advice to him, that I had no standing in the court and that I wouldn’t address the Court. It was refreshing to find that the judge completely understood my function.

It was now approximately 12.40pm. It was suggested to the judge that we break for lunch at this point and return at 1.40pm, rather than having the flow of arguments interrupted by the lunch break. The judge declined this approach and instead declared that the case would proceed through the lunch hour as he wanted to be out of the courtroom by 3.00pm (as I said earlier, Judge Clyne is a moveable judge and he travels all over the country, his desire to be finished by 3.00pm was to be expected). At that particular moment my purpose was amended. As well as being Steven’s McKenzie, I was now his official clock watcher too.

The barrister who’d requested that Steven go first, kicked off the debate. He was also the barrister who’d initially made the application to strike out the case because of delay when Judge Clyne had first appeared in January.

The barrister’s first argument was a complex one. He referred to the Heaney case to give his argument substance. This was the same case law that had been given to me by my friend. The thrust of the barrister’s argument was that the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act should have been the vehicle that facilitated the issuing of summonses for the present cases, rather than the modern legislation. This meant that the judge who initially binned the cases should have been approached to issue the summonses rather than having them processed in the fashion that they were.

The DPP argued that the Heaney case clearly showed via the “vice versa” bit in it that the gardaí could use either method when applying for a summons. In fairness to her the barrister wasn’t arguing that there weren’t two methods. He was arguing that one of them was not available. The State Solicitor ate up valuable time arguing the same point over and over and over. The barrister, for the most part, was content to allow Judge Clyne pick apart her argument.

We had taken a similar line in our argument with regard to the Heaney case. But it was radically different too. I’m sure that I heard Sergeant Waters state on an earlier date, that there had been a problem with the summonses applied for on the day before the six month limit expired and that those summonses had not been served. This facilitated us in taking a different route through the Heaney case. In order to reissue a summons, it must both have lapsed and not have been served. Our reasoning was that if the first summons was invalid, it cannot have ever been a valid summons and thus was never in a position to lapse. If I’d misheard the sergeant, we risked little in our differing approach as the barristers had the other side of the argument well in hand.

Next up was my second favourite part of the hearing. The barrister told judge Clyne that he wished to call his client as a witness, to demonstrate a general bias that prejudiced each of the defendants. A gentleman took the stand and was sworn in.

He told the Court that when he’d been arrested that there had been three specific individuals who’d witnessed the arrest and what had happened prior to it. He also said that they’d witnessed lots of other arrests. His first witness, after the cases had been struck out had joined the Foreign Legion, his second witness had emigrated to Australia and his third, a lady, had died.

The DPP opened her cross examination by asking the gentleman if he was a member of any organisation. I smiled inwardly at her stupidity. The gentleman replied that he was indeed a member of an organisation, he was a member of Republican Sinn Féin. He added that his three witnesses had not been members. The DPP thought she was on a roll – she was, but it wasn’t the type of roll she thought it was – she next asked him if any of his associates had been present and had witnessed his arrest. He replied that about 40 of them had witnessed his arrest. She asked him if he’d be able to get any of them into the courtroom to give testimony on his behalf. He replied that he could make a phone call there and then and have the 40 of them in the courtroom within the hour. It was all I could do, to not burst out laughing.

The witness was excused and his barrister pointed out to the Court that the first thing the DPP would do if the gentleman’s 40 witnesses turned up to testify for him would be to establish their obvious loyalty towards their comrade. The DPP spent a lot of time acting like something out of a Punch and Judy show with the “Oh no it isn’t” approach. She spent an incredible amount of time bickering with both the barrister and Judge Clyne.

There were some short arguments made after that that didn’t really get anywhere. Nonetheless the DPP fought them tooth and claw, as if her life depended on it. At 3.05pm I whispered the time into Steven’s ear. Steven answered me with a smile. The next time the DPP shut up long enough to take a breath, Steven approached the bench and made his move.

At this point the DPP glared at me. If looks could kill, they’d still be searching for my body.

Steven told the judge that the State had failed to comply with the Gary Doyle order and that it was provable that the State was at fault with regard to the video evidence we were unable to view. He told the judge that he’d brought an expert witness who could guide the court through the intricacies of the matter. At this particular point I was caught between feeling elation and feeling sorry for Judge Clyne as I watched the light go out of his eyes upon the realisation that Steven was bringing the Court right back to the moment that the cases had been initially thrown out.

The DPP went ballistic. She told the Court in tones close to hysteria that there had been nothing wrong with the DVDs and that she’d brought along the garda who’d put the material on the DVDs to give evidence. I was thinking to myself that if she was going to give evidence, that she should be fuckin’ sworn in first. The judge was kinder in his outlook. He pointed out to her that just because one DVD player played a DVD it didn’t mean that another player would do so and he reminded her of an earlier case in the day where there’d been a massive wait whilst a garda had tried to get video evidence to display via the court’s video system. He waved off further dispute from her and asked if anyone else had had a problem with matters arising from the Gary Doyle order. One barrister had. He said that the DPP had given him a look at two pepper spray reports earlier in the morning but that she hadn’t furnished him with copies. The DPP said that the reports were for internal garda use and didn’t advance the barrister’s case, where he was alleging that multiple people had been sprayed. The judge demanded to see the reports. He declared them irrelevant and they were handed back to the DPP.

The Judge returned his gaze to Steven who immediately started where he’d finished, only to be stopped again. The Judge shook his head and addressed the courtroom. He gave a reasoned judgement as to why he was dismissing each and every case because of the delay and the prejudice that accompanied it.

The republicans and the others at the back of the court gave the judge a quick round of applause.

The DPP lost her mind completely and began to gush that none of the arguments had been completed and that she’d not been allowed to make all of hers. The judge pointed out that they’d moved from one argument to another and that they had indeed been completed. The DPP continued to screech at the judge saying that not every defendant had given evidence to establish bias despite the fact that the evidence of the Republican Sinn Féin member had been used to establish a general bias. And on and on she went…

The judge slammed his fists, hammer style, onto the bench and glared at the DPP who was immediately struck dumb in terror. “Why am I still listening to this!?” he roared. “You are subverting what I stand for!”

There was a loud round of applause from the back of the courtroom, some cheering too.

Madam K and myself witness garda criminal behaviour and interview Willy, a homeless gentleman evicted from the camp

There’s been a lot written about the Occupy movement. Both from an international perspective and from a localised view. One thing stands out. There are very few who have not heard of it.

It’s not my intention to critique the movement. It will suffice to say that I see it as a symptom of where we are, rather than the solution. The kettle has started to boil!

This piece will focus on Dublin’s “Occupy Dame Street.” If folks are looking for an article that explores the mistakes and triumphs of the group I fear they will leave disappointed. I don’t particularly care whether trade unions, political parties and other groups were told to sling their hooks or not. I don’t particularly care to add to the various personality clashes that erupted, and were bound to do so, by smashing my own personality into the fray. Instead, I want to explore the tactics and the lawlessness used by the State to try to bring the die-hards to their knees. There is unity to be had in this. For it is the same with all. If you have a problem, you’d better shut your mouth, or else you’ll have the crap kicked out of you and you’ll get to play Dungeons and Dragons in the State’s medieval court system.

At a little after 3.00am on Thursday the 8th of March around a hundred gardaí, many of them in armour, invaded the camp on Dame Street. There were 15 inhabitants. People were ripped out of tents and told in no uncertain terms, to leave the area. Others were terrorised and assaulted in the camp’s kitchen and then told to leave the area. Some of the structures, including the kitchen were ripped to shreds by heavy machinery and trucked away as rubbish. The personal belongings of the campers and of many others were carted off by the interlopers and taken to Pearse Street Garda Station. Everything from laptops, the minutes of general assemblies, video cameras, to the very personal possessions of the movement, gone…

That evening a surprise protest, organised in a matter of moments at the general assembly, took the gardaí completely by surprise. It was called and it was on the road, on both lanes, as gardaí started to run towards their cars and vans. It was gratifying to see their flashing blue lights in the distance as the first of the sit-downs blocked all traffic. The one garda van that had managed to keep up with the march, didn’t puke out any little blue fascists with the balls to make any demands on the sitters.

When the march got to Pearse Street all hell broke loose as gardaí frantically called in support. They really needn’t have worried. It was a peaceful group, despite their righteous anger. The proof of that is that no gardaí were injured, despite their thuggish behaviour, which included a cowardly assault on a 15 year old girl. There were plenty of injuries handed out to the marchers however. Despite asking lots of gardaí present, what legislation facilitated them randomly grabbing folks and preventing them from going where they wished to lawfully go, I got no answer. It’s my view that the gardaí were extremely lucky that the intentions of the marchers were peaceful, to the extreme. This is not to say that folks didn’t get vocal or were afraid to assert themselves. There were lots of vocalisations and assertions.

Eventually a few were allowed inside the garda station to begin the process of reclaiming their property. They were told that each individual would have make a list describing their property, sign and date it and that the property would be handed back at some later date. Any property remaining after this would be handed back to the camp generally. Not a single item of property has been returned yet. Including heart medication and other essential materials.

Occupy Dame Street Occupies the Gardaí

So where’s the unlawfulness? It all seems proper, if a bit unfair. That’s surfaces for you. Just scratch and you’ll find something different.

On the 28th of February, a letter was delivered to the campers. It was from Superintendent Joe Gannon. Folks familiar with what’s written here will be familiar with the adventures of Joe. Basically if you need some muscle to beat the shit out of someone, you get Joe, that’s if “you” is the State. Not that Joe would be up to the job personally. No, not at all. Joe knows people.

Anyhow, Joe writes this letter, and comes across as all health and safety conscious. Of course to folks who are accustomed to Joe’s methodologies, like my good self, reading between the lines, it’s not really concern that one reads, it’s a threat. Here’s the letter in full:

To whom it may concern,

I write in the context of the ad hoc conversations and consultations we have had with participants in the occupy dame street camp over the last number of months

I also write in the context of the upcoming St. Patrick’s day celebrations, due to be held in Dublin City centre over the weekend of the 16th to the 19th of March, next st. Patrick’s Day, as you will be aware, and in particular the parade through Dublin city, is an event that attracts huge numbers of tourists and visitors from abroad and elsewhere in the country.

An Garda Síochána is charged with policing the festival and our objective is always to ensure that all of the st. Patrick’s Day events and celebrations pass off smoothly and that all participants and the large crowds of spectators at the parade can access and egress the parade route without any risk or threat to their health and safety.

An Garda Síochána’s policing of major events is very much predicated on adherence to codes of practice governing major outdoor events and health and safety stipulations under health and safety legislation. In that context, we are concerned about the presence of significant amounts of wooden pallets and other hardware in and around your “camp”. at the central bank plaza.

To that end I am therefore asking you for your assistance and cooperation IN REMOVING THE OCCUPY DAME STREET CAMP in order to facilitate the holding of the St Patrick’s day parade and to ensure that it passes off without risk of injury or harm to members of the community and visitors and to the satisfaction of all concerned.I would be grateful to receive your response to this letter by telephone, e-mail or post at the above contact points by the 3rd of March 2012.

Your cooperation in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Yours Sincerely,
Superintendent, Joseph Gannon

Please note that Joe has asked for a reply by the 3rd of March. It’s important for the contextualisation of what followed.

On the morning of the 8th of March, when the gardaí busted up the camp some printed sheets of paper were handed to the traumatised campers as an explanation as to what was happening. Section 24 of the Housing (Miscelaneous Provisions) Act, 2002, facilitated the thieves in the night. The date of printing was the 2nd of March, the day before the deadline for the camp’s answer to Joe’s letter.

I’ll print the important piece of the legislation:

Entry on and occupation of land or bringing onto or placing an object on land without consent.

19C.—(1) A person, without the duly given consent of the owner, shall not—

(a) enter and occupy any land, or

(b) bring onto or place on any land any object,

where such entry or occupation or the bringing onto or placing on the land of such object is likely to—

(i) substantially damage the land,

(ii) substantially and prejudicially affect any amenity in respect of the land,

(iii) prevent persons entitled to use the land or any amenity in respect of the land from making reasonable use of the land or amenity,

(iv) otherwise render the land or any amenity in respect of the land, or the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land, unsanitary or unsafe,

(v) substantially interfere with the land, any amenity in respect of the land, the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed an offence under subsection (1) the member—

(a) may demand of the person his or her name and address,

(b) may direct the person to leave the land concerned and to remove from the land any object that belongs to the person or that is under his or her control, and

(c) shall inform the person of the nature of the offence in respect of which it is suspected that person has been involved and the statutory consequences of failing to comply with a demand or direction under this subsection.

Refusing or failing to give name or address or failure to comply with direction.

19D.—Where a person—

(a) refuses or fails to give his or her name and address to a member of the Garda Síochána when demanded under section 19C, or gives to the member a name or address that is false or misleading, or

(b) fails to comply with a direction under that section,

he or she shall be guilty of an offence.

Arrest without warrant.

19E.—A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person—

(a) who fails or refuses to give his or her name and address when demanded under section 19C(3)(a) or gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading,

(b) who fails to comply with a direction given under section 19C(3)(b), or

(c) whom the member finds committing an offence under section 19C(1).

Removal, storage and disposal of object.

19F.—(1) Where a person fails to comply with a direction under section 19C(3)(b), a member of the Garda Síochána may remove or cause to be removed any object which the member has reason to believe was brought onto or placed on the land in contravention of section 19C(1) and may store or cause to be stored such object so removed.

(2) Any person who obstructs or impedes or assists a person to obstruct or impede a member of the Garda Síochana in the execution of his or her duty under this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where an object has been removed under this section without the presence or knowledge of any person claiming to own, occupy, control or otherwise retain it, the Commissioner shall serve or cause to be served upon each such person whose name and address can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry, a notice informing the person where the object may be claimed and recovered, requiring the person to claim and recover it within one month of the date of service of the notice and informing him or her of the statutory consequences of his or her failure to do so.

(4) An object removed and stored under this section shall be given to a person claiming possession of the object if, but only if, he or she makes a declaration in writing that he or she is the owner of the object or is authorised by its owner to claim it or is, for a specified reason, otherwise entitled to possession of it and, at the discretion of the Commissioner, the person pays the amount of any expenditure reasonably incurred in removing and storing the object.

(5) The Commissioner may dispose of, or cause to be disposed of, an object removed and stored under this section if—

(a) the owner of the object fails to claim it and remove it from the place where it is stored within one month of the date on which a notice under subsection (3) was served on him or her, or

(b) the name and address of the owner of the object cannot be ascertained by reasonable enquiry.

(6) Where the Commissioner becomes entitled to dispose of or cause to be disposed of an object under subsection (5) and the object is, in his or her opinion, capable of being sold, the Commissioner shall be entitled to sell or cause to be sold the object for the best price reasonably obtainable and upon doing so shall pay or cause to be paid to the person who was the owner of the object at the time of its removal, where the name and address of the owner can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry, a sum equal to the proceeds of such sale after deducting therefrom any expenditure reasonably incurred in its removal, storage and sale.

Penalties and proceedings.

19G.—(1) A person guilty of an offence under this Part shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month or to both.

(2) In any proceedings for an offence under this Part it shall be presumed until the contrary is shown that consent under this Part was not given.

Now, as can be seen, the proper procedure when using this legislation, is to inform any and all suspects, of the nature of the offence suspected and the penalties associated with a conviction under the offence. Folks being ripped from their sleeping bags and told to leave, without having this explained to them, have had their rights violated. Folks who have had their property taken without having this explained and an opportunity to remove their property, have had their rights violated. The good folks at Occupy Dame Street have been royally violated and not a single voice from the mainstream media or political world has so much as batted an eyelid.

Fair enough, I wasn’t present for the raid. But I was present later on, when John Rogers’ flag was stolen by a member of the gardaí. It was ripped right out of his hands and no warning or explanation was given. Cardboard, obviously capable of substantially damaging Dame Street Plaza, was expertly grabbed and destroyed by the State’s fascists in blue, before it could go off. Again without warning or explanation. In other words, the gardaí mugged people and stole their property.

John Rogers deals with the garda who stole his flag🙂

I’ve used the word “entrapment” in the title of this piece, where did that come from? That’s quite easy. Basically speaking, entrapment is when a person who wouldn’t have broken the law, does so, due to some trickery perpetrated by the gardaí. The occupy movement had a good relationship with the owners of Dame Street Plaza. Indeed they even offered to replace the wooden fencing the campers used with metal fencing. They never once asked the camp to leave. Indeed, at one point, due to a rumour from a garda, when we manned the Courts to fight a possible eviction, the owners of Dame Street Plaza, went to great pains to explain to the campers that they had not set anything in motion with regard to an eviction. However, due to pressure (or whatever) from the gardaí, who had secret talks with the owners, it was agreed to evict the camp. The problem was that nobody bothered to tell the campers this. The first they heard of it was when a hundred thugs smashed the camp to pieces, stole private property and sent their victims wandering into the night.

As with Rossport, Gannon’s goons largely avoided arresting people. Why go there when jackboots are so much quicker and cheaper than prosecutions…

There were about three arrests in all, to date. In one of those arrests, an activist who was on the ground, arrested and under the control of the gardaí, was pepper sprayed. I’ve a feeling that there’ll be no conviction if it goes to court. I know a complaint has been given to the paintjob Garda Ombudsman, so I’ll not be holding my breath for justice to be dispensed.

On the upside. As I said earlier, the kettle is boiling. I cannot wait to see who gets scalded.

An Activist’s Guide

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Dissent
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Running The Legal Gauntlet and Preventing Unjust Convictions

A Christmas gift from a newly formed group: Independent Legal Observers Ireland.

The guide itself is hardly comprehensive but it’s a good start.

Enjoy!

To download just click the link below.
An Activist’s Guide

Ombudsman Painter Decorators

For years I have been referring to the Garda Ombudsman as a “paint job.” I have done so out of my extensive experience of them, with regard to the various individuals, activists and organisations I have worked with. I have seen complaints accompanied by incontrovertible evidence of garda criminality result in garda vindication and vilification for those who dared to complain.

The Garda Ombudsman was set up to allegedly replace the Garda Complaints Board. The gardaí investigating the gardaí was seen to be a process that facilitated the widespread abuse of power and criminality by members of An Garda Síochána. The new body was spun in the media as being an organisation that would employ the best of experts from all over the planet to rein in the endemic corruption of the gardaí. And spin is all that it was. It has been my experience that the Ombudsman only examines the admissibility of complaints. The actual investigative work is handed back to the Garda Síochána as is facilitated by the Garda Síochána Act. In other words, the gardaí are still investigated by the gardaí. The only real difference is the addition of a massively expensive buffer between complaints and alleged investigations. I won’t be going into the function of the DPP in all of this. But I must say that I’m tempted to!

On June 9th of this year the Irish Times published a piece based on the statistics for 2010, concerning the operation of the Garda Ombudsman.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0609/breaking42.html

I’m not too concerned with most of the figures produced as they give no inclination whatsoever as to whether the Garda Ombudsman is functional.

I’m interested in two things from this report. The first being that in 2010 there were some 2,258 complaints – containing 4,031 specific allegations. The second being that “The commission said that after operating for almost four years, it had not detected any trends indicating racism in the Garda. Last year 85 per cent of all complaints received were from Irish people.

I’ll deal with the second point first as the other point will form part of the backdrop of this whole piece.

According to the Irish Examiner on January the 11th 2010, the EU in a report had said that “Sub-Saharan Africans are twice as likely to be subjected to police stops than other members of the public.” In fact the stop rate for these minorities was the highest in the EU, with Greek police stopping members of the Roma coming second.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/gardai-accused-of-racial-discrimination-109427.html

In March of this year the High Court removed Section 12 of the Immigration Act. This allowed the gardaí to stop non-nationals and demand that they produce their passports or similar documentation, without any reasonable suspicion that the person concerned had committed an offence. The gardaí were using and abusing this power. I’m personally aware of lots of instances of this and have been involved in a number of cases where the gardaí failed to secure a single conviction.

To suggest that the Ombudsman had not detected a trend indicating racism shows a lack of investigative ability and literacy rather than showing a lack of racism.

Now back to those figures. 2,258 complaints for 2010. Those figures, we’re told, are broadly in line with the figures of 2009. The Ombudsman has been open for business a little over four years. Let’s say the Ombudsman receives 2,200 complaints per year. Over four years this is 8,800.

In November of 2009 our glorious leader, Enda Kenny, asked a parliamentary question about the budget for the Garda Ombudsman. He was told that the budget for 2008 had been €9.845 million. He was told that the budget for 2009 would be €11.058 million.

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2009/11/10/00026.asp

I’m going to take the average budget to be approximately €10 million per year. In other words, the Garda Ombudsman has spent €40 million to remove the scum from An Garda Síochána.

In May of this year I had a parliamentary question asked by Joan Collins (Many thanks Joan). I wasn’t interested in how the Ombudsman “disposed” of complaints. I reckoned they used a bin. I wanted to know how many convictions had been secured, due to their efforts, that hadn’t been overturned by appeal. And I wanted to know the rank of the most senior garda convicted. Getting my answer took a bit longer than the three days it’s supposed to take. The reply came on the 30th of August.

Here’s the answer:

Since commencement of its operations in May 2007, seven members of An Garda Síochána have been found guilty of offences by the Courts arising from investigations by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. Of these, two members had their verdicts reduced to a sanction under the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 (as amended).

In a further case, in the District Court, the judge found that while the Garda in question had assaulted a complainant it was a minor assault at the lower end of the scale and he decided that he would deal with it other than by imposing a conviction and so struck out the summons.

All of these eight members were of Garda rank.

So there you have it. There have been 5 convictions since the Garda Ombudsman opened for business. The two that were given the Probation Act were not convicted, that is the point of the Act.

8,800 complaints and 5 convictions. 1 conviction per 1,760 complaints. €40,000,000 for 5 convictions. €8,000,000 per conviction.

The Garda Ombudsman is the most expensive paint job in Irish history. With the possibility of securing a conviction based on any single complaint being less than 0.057% it is quite obvious that one is better off not making the complaint in the first instance.

For ordinary citizens the message is quite clear. Avoid the Ombudsman. I could suggest that the Ombudsman exists specifically to ensure that the gardaí do not suffer for their widespread criminality. But that’s irrelevant, the intent that is. The fact is that they do not suffer for their widespread criminality.

For activists, the picture is even bleaker. The fact that the ombudsman does not function is used to tarnish the names and credibility of activists. And it would be my advice that activists and groups initiate a policy of not utilising the Ombudsman to begin with. It’s a waste of time and we can do without the State and other cancerous groups and individuals using this paint job to marginalise and disenfranchise us.

There are two things that push me to do what it is that I do. The first is a person’s right to enjoy his or her good name and operate, based on it. The second is the set of natural rights that facilitate the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly and the freedom of association. I am inspired most by those who risk the first by practising the second.

Superintendent Joe Gannon

On May 15th of last year, very early in the morning, I started to receive a series of text messages. I was told that there was a bunch of activists holding a very ballsy protest outside and on the Anglo Irish Bank and that the gardaí were going ballistic with their batons. I was also informed that the well known scumbag, Superintendent Joe Gannon was personally in charge of the operation. Being well aware of Gannon’s penchant for ignoring the rule of law and his love for causing violence to be inflicted on those who choose not to lower themselves to his baseness, by fighting back, I decided to make two phonecalls in the early afternoon. I phoned two animal rights protesters I knew, who intended to mount their own protest that day. I warned both parties about the consequences of the Anglo protest and told them that the gardaí had been blooded and that it was very likely that their bloodlust had not been fully satisfied. I advised that the activists should set aside the usual methodology used for dealing with gardaí who set out to violate their rights. I cautioned that it would be a good idea to follow any unlawful orders given and to ensure that those orders were captured digitally. The normal practice had been to stand up for themselves, get the evidence, get arrested and annihilate the fascists in court. My concerns turned out to be quite prophetic and I was to spend most of the day and evening hanging around Pearse Street garda station, enquiring and worrying about a young man who’d been falsely arrested and had had the living shit kicked out of him in the process. Anyhow, this piece is not specifically about that. It is about the Éirígí protest and more so about Daithí Mac An Mhaistir and his fight, consequential to his arrest that day, with the justice system. It’s quite an amazing tale, I hope you, the reader, will agree.

The four protesters on the balcony, Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Se, who were chained together, were dragged violently through an open window into the Anglo Irish Bank. It was alleged, in court, that the violence used upon these gutsy and dignified activists, was out of a concern that they might somehow fall from the balcony. It was later claimed, much to the amusement of those present, at Daithi’s trial, that they had threatened to jump. Though there had not been a mention of this false and absurd piece of perjury at their trial. Allow me to prove that there was no such concern at this stage. Prior to dragging the activists from the balcony, which according to garda evidence was some 19 feet above the footpath below, the gardaí had parked two garda vans immediately underneath the balcony. By my estimate, this reduced the dangerous 19 foot potential fall to a relatively harmless 5 or 6 feet. A good while before assaulting the chained activists, the gardaí removed these vans. Also, before the assault, the gardaí stole a large banner from the activists (which they have yet to return) that challenged the people of Ireland to “Rise Up!” After this, they amused themselves by filming the four and scurrying around them. At this point they dragged them violently through the window. On top of this outrage, the gardaí, as usual, did not follow protocol. The gardaí are mandated to use ropes, harnesses and scaffolding in situations where protests involving heights are concerned. It is usual garda practice to ignore this particular duty as has been well evidenced by their behaviour in Rossport, Tara and numerous other places and times.

Garda vans were initially parked under the balcony.

12 activists, who witnessed their comrades on the balcony being assaulted ran from the front of the Anglo Irish to the other exit point, beside the Mansion House, to await their friends being brought out and to ensure that no more violence was visited upon them. Three of the people in this group were: John McCusker, Pádraig Ó Meiscill and Daithí Mac An Mháistir. These three were arrested in the farce of policing that was to follow.

At this point I must point out, that I will be quite vague with regard to certain details in this tale and indeed, will be leaving out some incredibly inflammatory details. I’ve no choice in this as there are still court cases coming and other things. As with most of what I write, this is unfortunately unavoidable. My apologies nonetheless.

At this time an “urgent assistance” call was put out by gardaí stationed in the immediate vicinity. In a very short time there was a veritable wall of gardaí in front of the 12 activists who had linked together and there were also many gardaí behind them. Contrary to what Judge Watkins accepted as fact, in the first two trials, the trials of John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill, many gardaí had their batons drawn. In this joke of a trial, the judge accused both gentlemen of being liars, before finding them guilty and sentencing them. This is quite obviously something that I cannot say too much about and I will resist the almost overwhelming urge to point out the many and varied levels of utter bullshit, that I’m certain will see these activists vindicated in their appeal.

Daithí Mac An Mháistir, a founding member of Éirígí had been specifically present on the day of the protest to deliver a speech. His first taste of what was to come, came in the form of a massive ignoramus of a garda, who attempted to break his hand with a baton. Daithí managed to get his hand out of the way in time. Nobody attempted to put manners on this freak and this was to be indicative of the 12’s dignified protest despite the many provocations and injuries in what followed. It is interesting to note at this juncture, that despite the lying claims of the gardaí in the courts, that these activists had been “violent,” “looking for a fight,” and calling them “fucking pigs,” “bastards,” etc. there was not to be had one single claim that any garda had needed so much as a plaster, never mind actual medical assistance.

This is the Stand Off shortly after the "urgent assistance" call. Note that the gardaí do not look like they're afraid or being threatened.

In the court cases that followed, the gardaí mostly claimed that they were outnumbered, at all times by the 12. The numbers varied from between 30 and 60. Garda O’Brien a particularly vindictive and violent little prick, settled on a conservative estimate of thirty and explained in a non enlightening fashion that his keen ability at counting had been due to his having been a traffic garda. It was after this pronouncement of dubious fact, that O’Brien was confronted with the fact that he had said that there were 20 protesters in his precis of evidence. O’Brien was the garda who arrested Daithí. I’ll be generous and suggest that his disability with regard to numbers is down to his openly discernible stupidity. Indeed, I’d go so far as to suggest that in the main, that his belief that he could succeed in having Daithí convicted, was based on the utter tripe he gathered and presented as evidence, derived from this nascent stupidity and the fact that the judiciary at District Court level, generally, are more than willing to accept garda malfeasance and illogical crap to facilitate the convictions of decent and innocent activists. Thankfully, most judges who behave in this fashion, also have huge egos, and above anything else, fear having this stupidity publicly exposed. That’s one way to ensure winning in an Irish courtroom!

The particular “priest of the Oracle,” to quote Emmet in his “Speech From the Dock,” Judge McDonnell, who presided over Daithí’s trial, had no such fears. More about that shortly!

Daithí had been due to be tried on the first day of the Anglo trials. So too had the four who’d been viciously arrested in relation to the balcony protest. The case of the four couldn’t be heard on this occasion as the gardaí had failed to bring all of their witnesses. Daithí couldn’t be tried on this occasion due to Judge Watkins being forced to recuse herself for “perception of bias.” I’ll say no more about that day at this time!

The third trial was very interesting. Leo Mulrooney, the young barrister defending the four, fought the case from a strategic point of view that belied his youthful appearance. He cross-examined the prosecution witnesses, gardaí and civilians, opening up a plethora of defences and technicalities. He then, rather than playing his full hand, and giving the State a heads up so that it might prepare itself for Daithí’s case, ended the travesty by pointing out to the Court, that despite the fact representatives of the Anglo Irish Bank and the owners of the building had given evidence, that the four did not have permission to occupy the balcony, there were others who could have given permission, but the State had failed in its duty to provide their testimony to clarify the issue one way or the other. And thus the activists were entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Case binned! It was particularly gratifying and entertaining too when Leo, after letting the Anglo Irish Bank representative rattle on, asked him if access to and control of the balcony came under the bank’s lease agreement. The self important little gimp looked like he was about to chuck a coronary. He replied in the negative. So even if the technicality that saw the case tossed, hadn’t quite satisfied the judge, the fact that the bank had no say in the issue whatsoever, would have probably swung it!

On the 9th of May Daithí’s case kicked off with a bang. The first noticeable thing was that Superintendent Gannon wasn’t present. My heart sank. He was supposed to have been summonsed after all. Correct! Your eyes are not failing you. Daithí wanted Gannon on the stand! There seems to have been some problem with the issuing of the summons that’s still not clear in my mind. One of the issues was the length of notice that Gannon required. Daithi’s defence, like myself, believed that 3 days was the minimum notice required. The judge, Judge McDonnell went with the State’s position and decreed that a minimum of 3 weeks was required. The various arguments and other cases brought us up to lunch. Saved by the bell. After dinner, Leo made an application to adjourn the matter so that Gannon could be summonsed due to the fact that his client, Daithí, had instructed that he be produced and that it wasn’t Daithí’s fault that he hadn’t. McDonnell ruled that the case would commence and that he’d allow the application if he felt that circumstances merited it.

On the first day of the Anglo trials, Garda Peter O’Brien had been the prosecutor on behalf of the DPP, with regard to Daithí’s case. It was interesting to note that the DPP was taking the case at this point. Wouldn’t do to have a fuckwitt like O’Brien in charge of things when Gannon was put out of our collective misery on the stand!

O’Brien was first to give evidence. All the other witnesses, including defence witnesses were ordered out of the court. Daithí was only charged with a single crime, a Section 6 Offence – threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour. O’Brien said in evidence that he’d been beside Gannon and in front of Daithí. He claimed that Daithí as well as shouting abusive things at the gardaí, had approached Gannon and had violently shoved him backwards. He said that Gannon hadn’t fallen over, he instead ordered the line of gardaí to move the protesters back, so that the garda vans containing the four balcony protesters could leave the area. Daithí was then supposed to have turned and tried to escape. He was allegedly grabbed by a female officer, by the arm, whom he supposedly attempted to push out of his way. The brave female officer, in O’Brien’s imagination, held onto the activist and he went to her aid and affected the arrest. O’Brien claimed, in his sworn perjury, that Daithí had been violent and abusive until he was placed into a garda vehicle and taken away. O’Brien also told the judge that Gannon, prior to being assaulted, had ordered the protesters back on two occasions. Another point of interest here is that O’Brien was one of the gardaí who was on the balcony dealing with the four protesters there, he was not produced as a witness at their trial.

O’Brien was finally turned over to Leo. Leo has a way about him where he maintains his dignity and treats all with courtesy. O’Brien thought it was business as usual due to this and didn’t seem to comprehend that he was masterfully being torn apart as Leo cross-examined him. O’Brien was the idiot who was numerically illiterate, whom I’ve already spoken of. He couldn’t remember if Gannon had issued a lawful instruction under Section 8 of the Public Order Act, when he’d asked the protesters to move on two occasions. He readily agreed that Daithí hadn’t been charged with assault, obstruction or obstructing an officer in the course of his or her duty. He admitted that he’d had his baton drawn, when he’d arrived at the scene, after receiving an “urgent assistance” call. He hadn’t completed the mandatory paperwork associated with the production of this weapon mind you. He didn’t notice that there were gardaí filming and so he hadn’t procured this material as evidence. When asked where the video evidence from the bank was, he replied that there wasn’t any. After a gentle bit of prodding from Leo, he revised this untruth and admitted that he hadn’t even bothered to check if the bank had any CCTV cameras and associated footage! He was asked if Gannon was in the court on the first day of the Anglo trials, when Daithí had been due to be tried. He lied that he hadn’t. He was asked how many times Daithí was brought to the ground by the gardaí before being cuffed and arrested. He was only brought to the ground the once, O’Brien lied. When asked if Gannon had asked him to bring his baton to the protest, as there’d be “blood on the streets,” O’Brien said that Gannon had said no such thing to him. When asked if Gannon had said such a thing, O’Brien, for once, wisely said that he didn’t know.

This is the gardaí just before they attacked the protesters.

Garda Caroline O’Riordan was called from outside the courtroom to give evidence next. Caroline is a gobshite, amongst other things. She wasn’t really associated with directly policing the protest on the day in question, she was there to help with barriers and things like that. She hadn’t brought a baton with her on that day but was able to remember she’d seen some produced. She too responded to the “urgent assistance call.” She been positioned behind the protesters when she imagined for the court that Daithí had approached Gannon and had attempted to knock his lights out with a punch aimed at his face. Daithí missed his elderly target and followed up with a violent shove to the git’s chest, she wanted the court to believe. Neither of the other two garda witnesses spoke of having seen this alleged punch. Then Daithí had turned and had tried to flee. O’Riordan, boldly made a grab for the fleeing activist and managed to take hold of his arm. Daithí tried to violently push this brave officer out of his way, but was no more successful than he’d been in his attempt to punch Gannon in the face or in his attempt to knock the old man over with the shove he allegedly gave him. O’Riordan’s knight in shining armour rode to the rescue. He’d ignored the violence that Daithí had allegedly tried to visit on Gannon. But this was an attack on garda women folk!

After telling the judge that she and her hero had arrested Daithí, she was handed over to Leo for execution.

She didn’t know what Daithí had shouted, if he’d shouted anything.

She didn’t know if Gannon had issued a proper order under Section 8 of the Public Order Act when he’d asked activists to move away on two occasions.

She agreed that there was a general melee going on in the background as Daithí was being arrested.

She insisted that Daithí had not been taken to the ground, pulled up from the ground again, put in a headlock and dragged violently backwards to be thrown to the ground once again before being finally arrested. Not only was O’Riordan lying about this, she was the one who’d rushed from the dome of gardaí that was on top of most of the other activists, crushing and beating them, she’d been the very scumbag who’d grabbed Daithí in the headlock, nearly pulling him from the grip of the other gardaí who were just after pulling him from the ground, in her effort to injure the activist. This of course shows that her fairytale about having grabbed onto Daithí, holding him until her hero arrived to help her with taking him into custody, was just that, a fairytale! Perjury too.

To add more fuel to this particular fire I should say the following: Prior to Caroline trying to break Daithí’s neck, Gannon was on the road, some ten or so feet to the side of Daithí who’d already been taken to the ground. He shouted: “Take him! Take him!” At this point Daithí was dragged from the ground and it was at this stage that Caroline entered the scene. Not bad for an old man. He managed to get beside the allegedly fleeing Daithí, well before Caroline managed to arrive and grab Daithí, considering that she was behind the protesters to begin with. This shows that each and every piece of testimony that described events, immediately prior to Daithí’s arrest was a fabrication. The fact that all three gardaí agreed closely as to the alleged facts shows that they wilfully perjured themselves.

Garda O'Riordan, in the blue overalls, arrives. Daithí is already on the ground!

O'Riordan doesn't care if she snaps Daithí's neck!

The final prosecution witness was a Garda Shevlin. I’m not 100% sure that this was the garda’s surname, it was only mentioned once and I wasn’t sure if I’d caught it correctly. My apologies to all with the surname of “Shevlin” if I’m incorrect. The garda told the court that Daithí had approached Gannon and had either punched Gannon in the chest or had violently shoved him in the chest. His tale was pretty much the same as that of the other two State’s perjurers after that.

When cross-examined by Leo, we were told that he’d been approximately 20 feet away from Daithí at the time of the alleged shove/punch. He hadn’t bothered to try and intervene in this as he didn’t want to break formation and because Gannon could allegedly take care of himself. He lost sight of Daithí after the alleged attack on Gannon because Gannon allegedly ordered himself and the troops forward just after this. He’d been ordered to put away his baton shortly before this (he wasn’t required to fill in the necessary baton report either). He only caught sight of Daithí again whilst he was supposedly resisting being arrested and he went to offer his assistance. Leo got this particular witness to agree that Gannon hadn’t given a proper lawful order under Section 8 of the Public Order Act on the two occasions he’d ordered the activists to leave the area.

The alleged prosecution rested…

It was getting very late in the day. Leo put it to the judge that there were a number of applications that he could make at this point, but he wanted to discuss these possibilities with his client to take instruction on whether he should make them at this point or proceed with the defence case. The judge saw no problem with this and a discussion commenced as to when the hearing should re-commence. There were only a few dates available where the judge’s schedule facilitated him being back in the Parkgate Court complex. This presented a problem for one of the defence witnesses, who would be out of the country at the time the hearing was to be concluded. The judge agreed to hear this witness prior to adjourning the case for the day. The witness was only due to give testimony on a defence exhibit and its provenance. He hadn’t been present at the Anglo protest.

Near the start of this piece, I spoke of a young activist who’d been beaten and arrested on the same day as the Anglo protest. We’d long since had his case thrown out of court, without him ever having to present the evidence he’d gathered to defend himself. He had a little surprise for the gardaí, the DPP and indeed, Judge McDonnell.

Robert Ševcik was called from the corridor and onto the stand. He said that he’d been at an anti-fur protest that day. He’d been arrested and conveyed to Pearse Stree garda station. The arresting officer had taken his audio recording device from him. This audio device has an interesting function. The little machine can be put in record mode and the red LED that normally denotes that recording is taking place can be switched off. On this occasion the LED was off and the device was recording. The arresting officer took the device with him into the heart of Pearse Street and recorded approximately 13 minutes of incredibly interesting and enlightening audio.

Mr Ševcik produced a DVD copy of the audio as evidence for the defence and it was given to the court clerk to put in the court’s safe until the re-commencement of the hearing.

McDonnell, before rising for the day, informed Leo that he might well need to Summons Gannon and he advised the barrister of the necessary precedents that he ought to study with regard to such a witness who might not like giving testimony for the defence and who couldn’t be led in cross-examination because he was a defence witness. No problemo! We all exited the court in exalted spirits.

On the 17th of June the case re-opened for its conclusion.

There were a number of things that strike me as suspicious, but they may well be coincidental and fully innocent. The judge informed the defence team, sometime prior to the case being re-commenced that he would not be in the court before 2.00pm. Nothing too suspicious about this, on its own. I arrived at the Parkgate complex well before 2.00pm. I was immediately approached by another activist who looked very worried. He told me that we were possibly in the wrong place. He’d approached reception and had been told that there were no cases at all being heard in Court 17 that day. I was very sure of the schedule and I went with him over to reception and gave the lady there the details of the case. She told me that all the cases scheduled for Court 17 were moved to Court 18. We thanked her and we went upstairs. Sure enough, Daithi’s case was listed for hearing in Court 18 and it was listed for hearing at 10.30am. The list was posted outside the the entrance to Court 18. I decided not to go in, I instead waited for Daithí and all of the others to arrive, so that I might clear up any confusion that might have arisen. It was just as well that I decided this as otherwise I would have ended up being the confused person.

Shortly before 2.00pm Daithí, his legal team, witnesses and supporters arrived. Immediately upon their arrival a person went over to Court 17 and unlocked the door to admit Leo. The case was being heard in 17 after all!

Any members of the press who ended up in Court 18 by mistake, well you missed the fireworks!

Some 20 minutes after the case was due to start and we were sure that Gannon wasn’t going to show, applying for a bench warrant would have been interesting, in he walked, smiling. He sat down at the back of the court. I couldn’t resist turning around and giving him a welcoming wink!

Five minutes after the arrival of Gannon the judge entered the courtroom. He had a face on him like someone who’d tried to eat a lump of shit and had decided that it wasn’t up to standard. This wasn’t going to be pretty.

Leo attempted to begin the defence. There were to be no applications at this point. The judge went mental! He accused Leo, wrongly, of having misled the Court. He claimed that Leo had agreed to make applications first and then if necessary, proceed with the defence case. He was quite wrong in this. Simple logic proves it. Leo could easily have asked Daithí on the last day if he wished to make applications. If Daithí had agreed, the applications would have taken minutes and there’d have been no need to put Rob on the Stand or summons Gannon. There were at least four applications that I could think of that would have seen this case winging its way into the nearest hole. The judge was hearing none of what Leo had to say on the matter. He demanded that Leo gather his instructing solicitor and his client, that they leave the courtroom, to discuss the very serious consequences of not making applications at this time. In other words, he threatened to pay no heed to applications made after the defence commenced. Leo, who maintained his composure and dignity throughout the exchange, pointed out to the judge that he was a barrister and that he was well within his rights to take instruction from his client, without having to summon the head solicitor of the legal firm representing Daithí. The judge amended his demand to a request. Daithí and his team left the courtroom.

When they re-entered the court and the Judge had once again seated himself, Leo informed him that he’d be presenting the defence as per the instructions of his client and that he’d make applications if and when he felt it necessary to do so. The implication being that if McDonnell refused to listen to the substance of these applications and instead threw them out because the defence wasn’t being presented as he’d dictated, well, that would be on his shoulders!

I should point out at this stage, that Daithí wanted the defence presented for a very good reason. He’s a well known activist, he’s a founding member of a controversial political party and he’s got lots of people who’d like nothing better than to crap all over his good name. Daithí wanted the full truth to come out and be exposed to the light of day in this case. Having the case tossed on a technicality would have facilitated the scumbags in their efforts. On the other hand, if the fullness of the garda actions was properly exposed, there’d be no way to attack his good name and character. On top of this, the protest itself was a very important one, with eyes at home and abroad watching what happened. For example, who did the gardaí gather all that video footage for, if not for evidence to be used in court! This case stank to high heaven and Daithí wanted it all out in the open.

Judge McDonnell, his bluff called, decided to shoot the case in the head himself. He said that he’d looked through his notes and could find no mention of when the gardaí had told Daithí what they’d arrested him for. He demanded that the DPP look through her notes to confirm this. She looked and could provide no example. But she did argue and I agree with her, in my non legal expert way, that this was irrelevant as the prosecution had not attempted to produce any evidence that arose after the arrest. The judge was having none of it. Case dismissed!

Next the judge accused Leo of impropriety in presenting the defence. He announced that the barrister was pursuing the defence for “collateral” purposes. He did this without hearing a single word of the defence. After all, it should be remembered that Rob had not given any testimony as to what happened outside the Anglo Irish Bank. What an absolute load of horseshit! If vindicating the character of an innocent man is collateral to the court’s function, one can only wonder as to the judge’s purpose in the first instance!

Next, the judge did something, that in my opinion should see him torn from the bench and stripped of all authority. He held aloft the audio DVD that Rob had provided and told a relieved looking Garda O’Brien to return it to its owner. He did this despite Leo telling him that this audio was to be used in at least another 2 cases and that the gardaí had no copy of it or inkling as to what was on it. McDonnell was having none of it, his simian like brow was deeply creased and his lips turned fully down, indicating that he was in full tantrum mode. It was handed over to O’Brien, who took it and promised to deliver it to its owner – he didn’t even enquire as to the owner’s details. This audio will be used in the appeals of John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill and no judge of the Circuit Court, a higher authority than McDonnell, has ordered that this evidence be given to the gardaí.

When McDonnell first came into the courtroom that day on his rampage, denying Daithí a hearing where the full truth came out, I was reminded of Robert Emmet and his famous “Speech From the Dock.” It is fitting that I end this by quoting from it:

My lords, it may be a part of the system of angry justice, to bow a man’s mind by humiliation to the purposed ignominy of the scaffold; but worse to me than the purposed shame, or the scaffold’s terrors, would be the shame of such unfounded imputations as have been laid against me in this court: you, my lord [Lord Norbury], are a judge. I am the supposed culprit; I am a man, you are a man also; by a revolution of power, we might change places, though we never could change characters; if I stand at the bar of this court and dare not vindicate my character, what a farce is your justice? If I stand at this bar and dare not vindicate my character. How dare you calumniate it?

The best view of Dublin for a British Royal

This will be a short post as the video says everything that needs to be said.

On Saturday 16th April, Éirígí organised a piece of street theatre outside the GPO. They brought along a guillotine with them and after a rousing speech from Brian Leeson and a trial, where Ursula Ní Shionnain, one of the four activists who had charges struck out in court earlier in the week after occupying the balcony of Anglo Irish Bank last May, acting as the jury foreperson, read out 12 of the multitude of crimes this woman represents, cut the monarch’s head off.

Éirígí intend to hold at least two more events that will highlight that some folks, myself most certainly included, will not be on bended knee to greet the imperialist monarch, should she dare set foot on Irish soil.

Firstly, on May 15th, Éirígí will assemble at the Garden of Remembrance at 3.00pm. They will then proceed inside and occupy it to await the arrival of the monarch, who has astonishingly been invited to visit there on or about the anniversary of the Dublin Monaghan bombings. All those who care are asked to come and support this effort. It is very doubtful that the sycophants of the Irish State will allow this and will most probably have the gardaí/RIC drag them out of there or prevent access in the first place. Either way, it becomes a PR nightmare for the subservient government. Republicans must be turned away from or dragged away from the very place that pays homage to dead republican heroes of yesterday, so that the abomination responsible for these deaths in the first place might lay claim to it. Well done Éirígí! Inspired thinking!

The second event will consist of Éirígí picketing a banquette in her majesty’s alleged honour, most likely to be held at Dublin Castle. It is expected that the scum that facilitated the ruination of this country, will also attend, to gorge themselves yet again at the expense of the poor.

To get more info on Éirígí and their upcoming events, visit: http://www.eirigi.org