Posts Tagged ‘Civil Rights’

On 12/7/2009, Agnieszka Chojnacka was arrested on the Clontarf Road, outside Duffy’s circus, where she was engaged in a peaceful protest.

This case finally came to court on Wednesday, May 26th. In an incredible tour de force, the vegan animal rights activist, who defended herself, destroyed the State’s case, laying waste to the two gardaí, who took the stand to lie about her.

Agnieszka Chojnacka

Agnieszka Chojnacka, Aga to her friends, defended the right to hold beliefs, the right to communicate those beliefs to others and the right to do so in public, in Court 17 at Parkgate Street, on Wednesday the 26th of May.

Aga was charged with four separate offences:
1. Section 6 of the Public Order Act – Engaging in threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour.
2. Section 8 of the Public Order Act – Refusing or failing to leave an area after being given a lawful direction to do so.
3. Section 24 of the Public Order Act – Giving a false name and a false address.
4. Failing to show up at a hearing in violation of her bail conditions.

The first three charges were binned after the prosecution’s case and before Aga needed to start her defence, where witness testimony and video evidence would have shown beyond any doubt that the Garda Síochána had acted to shut down a peaceful protest, without so much as a shred of evidence to warrant it. Judge Blake in complying with Aga’s applications savaged Garda Marguerite Reilly of Clontarf Garda Station, for the general sloppiness of her prosecution and the lack of a case.

To be blunt, Garda Reilly makes a much better prosecutor than she does a garda.

Garda Reilly

The gardaí are sworn to uphold human rights and dignity. This is contained in the garda oath and in the Garda Síochána Act. Garda Reilly acted to strip human rights and trample dignity. The Garda Síochána should have no place for blatant fascism. That’s a very bold statement from me and I make no apologies for it whatsoever. Here’s what happened; this is what the video evidence shows:

On 12th July 2009, at approximately 2.00pm, the gardaí arrived at Clontarf Rd following a phone call from one Mark McFerran, the manager of Duffy’s circus. The first garda to arrive on the scene was a garda on a bicycle, shoulder no. J177. I shall refer to him as “the coward,” from here on in. Prior to the arrival of Garda Reilly and the garda who drove her to the scene, Garda Ward, the coward witnessed Aga shout the words: “Duffy’s circus,” twice. After this the two other gardaí pulled up in a car close to Aga’s position.

Immediately upon the arrival of the car, Mark McFerran stuck his head in the passenger-side window, handed a leaflet to Garda Reilly and engaged in a conversation with her. This leaflet contained propaganda about the protesters, it also contained an allegation that the protesters were abusing and threatening members of the public. Garda Reilly, testified that Mark McFerran did not make a complaint to her and that she didn’t make a record of any verbal complaint from the circus manager in her notebook.

The two gardaí then got out of the car. Garda Ward approached Mr Edmund Long, who was close to Aga and began to investigate the complaint that had brought the gardaí to the scene. This investigation began and ended with the Garda demanding Mr Long’s details.

Garda Reilly followed the circus manager away from Aga and the three protesters who were close to her. It is possible that Garda Reilly might have heard the following words before she began to abuse three Spanish ladies: “Please Boycott Duffy’s circus and any other animal circus.” These words were not uttered by the three Spanish ladies, they came from another lady who was situated close to them. In other words, Garda Reilly didn’t hear the Spanish ladies say anything to any member of the public. This did not stop Garda Reilly from accusing the three of “shouting and roaring at young kids” and of calling them “animal abusers.”

The belligerent Garda Reilly then made her way back down towards Aga and the others where she accused them of a public disturbance. At this point, she had not heard Aga speak at all. Reilly and Ward both testified that the activists were engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour from the moment they arrived – a very blatant fabrication. Reilly also approached the high fence that separated the protesters from the circus and members of the public where she spoke to one Stephanie Duffy, the wife of the circus owner. Aga tried to calm the situation down by asking Garda Reilly to observe her behaviour as she protested. Garda Reilly finally agreed to this and stepped back from Aga, still facing her, with her back to the circus. Aga then shouted the following: “Duffy’s circus is an animal abuser. Please, if you care about animals, don’t support this cruelty. They suffer. They suffer during the training, they suffer during the transportation, they spend their whole lives in cages or performing stupid tricks. All this cruelty, just to entertain you.” When Aga reached the word “cages,” Garda Reilly turned, approached Stephanie Duffy and spoke to her. Stephanie Duffy pointed towards Aga, and the Garda, like an obedient lap dog, immediately walked back over to Aga and threatened to arrest her, telling her that she’d have “no problem” in doing so.

At this time, Garda Ward came over to Aga, having done his bit for fascism with Mr Long. Mr Long had been directed to leave the area under Section 8 of the Public Order Act for engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, under Section 6 of the Act. Despite the fact that the gardaí had not witnessed Ed say anything whatsoever to any member of the public. Anyway, this garda demanded Aga’s details as part of his ‘investigation.’ And both he and Aga moved away from Garda Reilly and went to where Aga had stored her bag, so that she could identify herself to this rights abuser. When he had satisfied himself as to Aga’s identity and her address, he moved on to make demands on the three Spanish ladies, who’d said nothing whatsoever to any member of the public (indeed they faced the road and not the circus the whole time) in his or any other garda’s presence and who would continue to say nothing until the protest ended, immediately after Ms Chojnacka’s arrest. As he demanded details from the three ladies, who had very poor English, Ms Gloria Bartolome attempted to translate his demands into Spanish for the three. He ordered her away under Section 8 of the Public Order Act for interfering with him. The gardaí ended up not taking the details of the Spanish ladies, due to communications difficulties, it would seem.

Aga, in the meantime, had gone back to protesting, close to the coward, who offered a sarcastic counterpoint to the young lady by suggesting that the tigers and animals in the circus should be thrown out onto the road. Garda Reilly again approached Aga and began to abuse her. She stopped this abuse briefly to approach Gloria, to demand that she leave the area as she had been ordered. As she did so, she waved the rolled up piece of circus propaganda in the activist’s face. Gloria asked her to stop this, saying that it was intimidating and she agreed to leave the area. After telling the Garda that there was no need to be so rude, Gloria asked Garda Reilly if she might retrieve her jumper. Reilly told her to take all her “rubbish” with her and can be heard to giggle as the outraged activist leaves the area. She then returned to continue her abuse of Aga.

Aga walked away from the fuming and blustering garda in search of an activist with a camera to make sure the abuse she was putting up with was filmed. She first approached Mr Tom McSherry, a very calm man under pressure, who was being harassed by Garda Ward. Ward informed Aga that he was dealing with the gentleman and he told her not to interfere. Aga then approached Elin Bjerding, her friend and made sure that she was filming.

Garda Reilly repeatedly asked Aga if she was going to follow her lawful order, under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. Aga replied “yes.” And the Garda demanded that she leave immediately. Aga quite rightly refused to do so “no.” After all, the garda was not making a lawful demand. Aga repeatedly asked the garda to tell her what it was that she had done that facilitated the garda in making the demand under Section 8 of the Act. The garda failed to do so and simply continued to roar and shout at the calm activist, demanding that she leave.

Garda Reilly failed to tell Aga that refusal or failure to comply with a lawful direction of a garda was a criminal offence (extra to the Section 6 offence of threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour, that had been the substance of the complaint that brought the gardaí to the scene). The garda failed to inform Aga of the penalties associated with a Section 8 offence, should the activist be convicted of same. And the garda failed to inform her of the penalties associated with a Section 6 offence.

Aga then, having had enough of Garda Reilly’s crap, walked back over to the coward. She demanded to know what law she was breaking and informed him that she would not be silenced. The coward agreed that Aga might continue her protest but warned that he’d be back if there was another complaint. At this point, Garda Reilly informed Aga that she was being arrested under the powers given to her by Section 24 of the Public Order Act. Aga pointed out to Reilly that the coward, who’d been the first garda on the scene, had agreed that she should be allowed to stay and continue her protest. Reilly informed Aga that she too was a garda while she gently patted the coward on the shoulder. The coward, true to his nature, immediately cycled off, without looking at Aga. The activist was cuffed and placed in the waiting car.

The coward runs away as Reilly arrests Aga

The coward briefly returned as the activist was lead away, to repeat his earlier attempt at witticism, regarding the throwing of the circus animals on to the road. Nobody had responded to him the first time around, so he must have concluded that nobody had heard his brilliance. Nobody responded to this pathetic creature this time either, so he slithered away once more, his need for attention unsatiated. There’s hope for the coward though, I’m very sure that the High Court will recognise him for what he is, when Aga takes the Garda Commissioner to the cleaners.

The court case was brilliant. Agnieszka grilled Reilly on the Stand for over an hour. The garda couldn’t describe any behaviour of the gutsy activist that was threatening, abusive or insulting. She hadn’t recorded and couldn’t remember any words that were threatening, abusive or insulting. Even when prompted with the words that were used by Aga and the others, the Garda failed to identify any threat, insult or abuse. The garda had to very reluctantly agree that the signs and banners that the activists had displayed had not been confiscated, neither had there been any issue with them, despite, as Aga pointed out, the fact that they contained essentially the same messages that the activists were attempting to convey verbally to members of the public. The garda in one rare moment of inspiration (or despair) asked Aga if she had a problem with the definition of the word “threatening.” The activist, without skipping a beat, told her that she had, and that she’d be grateful if the garda could define if for the Court and show how it related to her words and behaviour on the day in question. Needless to say, the garda was unable to do so. For a finish we were left with the garda repeating her nonsense mantra: that she believed that Aga’s behaviour on the day might occasion a breach of the peace – which is of course, mere opinion evidence, which has no place in the District Court when given by a non-expert witness like Reilly.

One particular phrase that Reilly used, when repeatedly poked by Aga to tell the Court if she’d had concerns for any of the children that she’d accused activists of “abusing” and “shouting and roaring at,” was the phrase: “in the backside of my mind.” A very good phrase, I thought to myself. It just about described where each and every action of the garda on the day originated from: The arsehole in her head.

When asked if she could remember telling Ms Bartolome to take her “rubbish” with her and giggling as she left, Garda Reilly answered that she could not remember doing so, but could not be pushed by Aga into denying it.

Aga quizzed the garda who had taken to wringing her hands and grimacing, about the section 24 charge (false name and address). The Garda, who could no longer even look at the judge as she gave evidence, as he’d had occasion to shout at her on the odd occasion or three, agreed that she’d not given a false name. She couldn’t recall either, as to when she’d allegedly made the demand for Aga give her details, other than to say that it was prior to the arrest. Aga helped the distraught garda out at this point by reminding the garda that she’d demanded details from the young lady, when she was lying on the floor of Clontarf Garda station, with Reilly standing over her and screaming: “What’s your fucking address!” The Charge Sheet of course claimed that Reilly had made the demand for details at the scene and prior to the arrest.

Another point, so that the ignorant might be educated. Reilly informed the Court that Aga had been offered an adult caution and that she’d refused it. This might well have been the case. And if it was, it’s just another example of Reilly’s and her superior’s incompetence. The fact that there was a section 24 charge meant that Aga did not qualify for such a caution.

Garda Reilly was stupid enough to bring her buddy, Garda Ward, the driver of the car with her as a witness (it’s a pity she didn’t bring the coward too). Aga objected to this as she had no notice that this garda would be a witness and had no summary of his evidence. Judge Blake informed Aga that he wanted to hear this witness. But what the heck. It facilitated Aga in opening Garda Reilly’s precis (summary of evidence) to the Judge. The precis being a true work of art. And it facilitated Ms Chojnacka in finishing Garda Reilly’s Section 24 charge off with a smooth and efficient coup de grace. When the garda had finished repeating some of the swill that Reilly had attempted to fob off on the Court, Aga asked him if he’d demanded her details. He arrogantly replied that he had, giving the impression that he thought that he’d scored a point. Aga dismissed him (Reilly tried to cross examine her own witness at this point and was savaged by the Judge) and made an application to the Court to dismiss the Section 24 charge, stating that just about every piece of information on the charge sheet did not agree with the facts, as presented by the gardaí in evidence to the Court (in this instance, Reilly was not the garda who’d made the demand, as the charge sheet claimed).

Garda Ward takes Aga's details

The Judge then asked Aga if she had any other applications to make. She replied that she didn’t, “at this time.” The judge, whom I suspect was sick of the whole sorry mess and who didn’t want to have to sit through lots of video, and witness evidence, told the defendant, that now was the time to do so. One of the witnesses, Elin Bjerding, who was essential, to authenticate some of the video evidence amongst other things, had been flown in from Sweden at Aga’s expense, for the third time, to give testimony. Agnieszka, who really wanted to display the video evidence and have her witnesses heard, reluctantly made an application to have the remaining, Section 6 and Section 8 charges struck out. Judge Blake, after giving the cringing and fawning Garda Reilly a piece of his mind, struck both charges, relying on Aga’s right to have charges explained to her and the consequences of them, should she be found guilty. He named Galligan and Mulligan (and another one, that I didn’t catch) as being cases that set precedent for this. Aga in preparing the closing argument that she didn’t get to make, also went into Galligan, amongst a plethora of others.

Only the charge for failing to appear, in violation of Aga’s bail conditions remained. She’d spent two days in garda custody on foot of a bench warrant over this. A very pleasent gentleman, Garda Donal O’Neill, gave evidence on this. When examined by Aga he agreed that the failure to appear had been a genuine and honest mistake. This did not change after I as her McKenzie Friend who has accompanied her on each of her many visits to the court in relation to this case, gave evidence, or after Aga gave evidence. His affable manner was both refreshing and encouraging and he has our gratitude for it. Judge Blake gave Ms Chojnacka the benefit of the doubt and struck the final charge.

It was a battle that lasted about an hour and a half. At the end of it, all that was left, to plagiarise Deep Purple, was “smoke on the water.”

Alternative link for this article:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/96775

More Court cases from this group:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/95761
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/95068
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/93510

Aliberation: http://aliberation.vegaplanet.org/
VegaPlanet: http://www.vegaplanet.org/

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On Monday the 7th of December, Mr Robert Ševcik was in the Richmond Court to conclude a marathon hearing that had spilled into a second day. Mr. Ševcik an animal rights activist and a vegan, was answering to four charges, ranging from threatening, insulting and abusive behaviour, under the Public Order Act, to failing to produce his passport upon demand, under the Immigration Act. All of these charges arose out of a protest at Barnado’s Furriers on Grafton st. close to the Molly Malone statue, on the 18th of October, 2008.

It was a case littered with perjury, a missing garda sergeant and a mysterious garda inspector. Nonetheless, at the end of the case, the judge accepted Mr Ševcik’s evidence and he walked out of the court, with each and every charge dismissed.

VegaPlanet: http://www.vegaplanet.org/
Aliberation: http://aliberation.vegaplanet.org/

Garda David Walsh

How long shall we continue to allow this rotten State continue its attempt at snuffing out the most basic and fundamental of rights?

Three activists ran at Ms Barnado, an aging dear, as she locked up her shop. They began to scream and rage at her, right into her face. She was terrified.

Garda Walsh almost couldn’t believe his eyes. That didn’t stop the garda from switching to automatic, as he hurtled into the rapidly developing situation, without even a thought towards his own safety. Close to him, he noticed that Sergeant Costello, who must have had similar urges, was running towards the entrance of the shop and the situation also. They were both running from behind a line of protesters, the ones who hadn’t run at the owner of Barnado’s Furriers.

That was garda Walsh’s take on what happened: Three protesters run at woman. Sergeant Costello and Garda Walsh approach from behind the line of protesters. He swore it under oath and he did so a number of times, as he was cross-examined by Mr Robert Ševcik, the defendant. In other words, Garda Walsh swore that Sergeant Costello was a liar. Of course, Garda Walsh was also perjuring himself.

Sergeant Costello had a completely different tale to tell. He was with Ms Barnado when the three made their move. He was in the process of taking a complaint from her. He’d stepped between the frail lady and the worst of the three, Mr Ševcik, and asked him and the other two to go away. But Mr Ševcik wasn’t having any of it, he had nothing to say and he was going to bellow it at the frightened old dear some more. At this point, according to the sergeant, the lower ranking Walsh arrived, and made the same request that he had just made. But Rob ignores them both, one after the other, and resumes shouting into Ms Barnado’s face. (Either Rob must have shoved his head right through the sergeant’s chest, as he was apparently between Rob and Ms Barnado, or else, both gardaí moved aside, to facilitate Rob’s access to his alleged victim.)

Unfortunately for Mr Ševcik, Rob, he couldn’t go into Sergeant Costello’s evidence and confront Garda Walsh with it, as the Sergeant wasn’t present at the hearing. All Rob had was the Sergeant’s garda statement, given to him as part of a precis of evidence. Unfortunately (for the truth), the court rules do not permit such evidence to be admitted or disclosed, in a situation where the garda who produced it is unavailable for the hearing.

We’re not in court now though.

I might be getting ahead of myself, so I’ll go back to a beginning…

Robert Ševcik walked into the Richmond courtroom, followed by his McKenzie Friend, me. The pale young Austrian had a lot of weight on his shoulders. This case had been listed for hearing on a number of occasions, but had been put off each time, to the objections of Rob. We didn’t know whether it was going to go ahead or not. Rob had missed a fair bit of work, due to his frequent and quite useless but necessary visits to court on this issue (necessary in the sense that if he’d missed a single sitting, or if he’d been sufficiently late, a bench warrant would have issued, at the least). His witnesses had missed work too, though it was fewer times. Bosses were angry etc. Sometimes this far from subtle aspect of closing down dissent is missed. It is never missed by those who have to go through it. Even nastier, the fact that a defendant must put his or her friends and witnesses through the same yoke is very traumatic. At least that’s what it feels like. It’s a mechanism that quite obviously would tend to sunder what’s left of a group after the gardaí have first harassed a group and bled it dry of comrades and any potential new blood.

Rob’s friends stood shoulder to shoulder with him. They’re not going to fall to their knees and give up their right to meet in public and their right to engage with that same public. That option just isn’t on the table.

Anyway, couple that with us getting off to a really bad start. There were two cases, both of them covering similar allegations and similar sets of charges. We’d initially prepared to fight these two cases nearly a year before. The presiding judge split the two cases and put one of them back to next February, considering that there wasn’t a hope of having the time to hear them both, something that Rob had pointed out to a judge, near the beginning of this ordeal, but he’d been ignored. That was the beginning of our problems, this separation of the two cases, though we didn’t realise it at the time. We’d prepared for both cases very differently. In one case Rob was going to forensically tear the State’s case apart, and there’d be no motions to dismiss at the start. In the other, Rob was going to start out by making two motions, one after the other, each for dismissal. The judge moved the one that Rob was prepared to tear apart. Don’t get me wrong, Rob was prepared to pull both cases apart, it’s just that the movement itself caused a problem for the unmoved case, that neither of us had spotted. There was a mysterious garda inspector present during Rob’s arrest, indeed there’s video footage of him, with his hands on Rob as Rob is being lead away in handcuffs. The same inspector was present during the arrest of Rob that facilitated the moved trial also. We believe that the inspector might be a witness in the case that got moved. He was in court anyway. But he didn’t come back after the lunch break. A little surprise had been planned for the inspector. Rob was going to call him as a witness. One of two things would have resulted. If Rob had been refused, he would have moved to dismiss based upon the fact that Garda Walsh had failed to gather available and important evidence. The other possibility was way more interesting, Rob would have got to examine (possibly as a hostile witness) a garda inspector who probably didn’t have time to come up with a reasonable line of bullshit that agreed with the bullshit of the State’s other two witnesses (which was an impossibility as their stories didn’t agree either), if he decided to shovel shite, he’d have to improvise it as he went along.

Anyway, that went a bit pear shaped. Pity…

Not to worry though, Rob is looking forwards to having a long and interesting chat with the inspector in the witness box, in February.

There was another problem with the case. Garda Walsh claimed to have provided this problem under oath, but he was perjuring himself. The protester with the video camera, Ed Long, was forced to leave the area shortly before the festivities kicked off. Walsh claimed multiple times that he was the garda who directed Ed away, under the public order act for threatening and abusive behaviour. This was a lie of course, Walsh did not direct Ed, he did not explain the consequences to Ed, for refusing to follow such instructions and of course Ed was not directed away for threatening and abusive behaviour (As Walsh swore under oath). Ed captured the real story on camera. It was another Garda, a garda Tuite, who had demanded that Ed leave the area. Ed gave the camera to Tom McSherry, a soft spoken gentleman, before he left. When the festivities kicked off, all the protesters were surprised as they thought that the gardaí had had their fun, with the sending away of Mr Long. Not so this time.

The fun began when Sergeant Costello assaulted a young woman, A Ms Chojnacka. This assault was quickly followed up by Rob’s arrest. Tom managed to grab a few seconds of footage that shows Rob being lead away, shows that the shutters of Barnado’s Furriers are closed and shows Ms Chojnacka, having her details taken.

This is all fact. The judge at the end of the trial said that she accepted Mr Ševcik’s evidence, that it was the only clarity to be had in the trial.

So as can be seen, Rob went into court with lots of video evidence. But no footage of the actual events that resulted in his arrest.

To add insult to injury, Garda Walsh claimed to have demanded identification from Rob at the garda station,under the Immigration act (that said, in the charge sheet, it is claimed that this request happened at the scene, on Grafton st.). That coupled with the fact that Rob was also charged under the Public Order Act, Section 24, for not identifying himself, gives us an interesting scenario. Double jeopardy, Irish style, where both issues are tried at the same time.

It was shortly after the judge had asked Rob if he intended to put a motion to the court, to avail of myself as his McKenzie friend, that we knew we were in trouble. Not immediately mind you. Not until after Rob had informed the Court that he didn’t need to make such a motion, that he had already decided, himself, that he was going to use a McKenzie. It was just after this that we noted that most of the case law that we’d prepared, was either missing or incomplete. Maddeningly, the case law that provides for Mr Ševcik’s right to determine himself, as to whether he requires a McKenzie Friend or not was missing, well, we had the bit up to where it mentions a McKenzie Friend, but it was truncated from there. Shit!!

The Judge was incredibly kind and understanding, even the DPP gave. She said that she had no problem whatsoever with Mr Ševcik being helped with the presentation of his case. This was the first of the moves that the DPP’s representative made, that unconditionally shows her to be ethical and incredibly fair. The judge too must be praised. Fairness, understanding and latitude describe her. She gave Rob the time and the scope to develop his case and eventually, to utterly destroy the State’s case.

Couple all of this, with the fact that the Judge refused Rob’s first application to strike the matter, as Garda Walsh had delivered part of a precis at 2.30am in the morning. We’d had a similar application accepted by a different judge recently see http://www.indymedia.ie/article/93510. But the judge in this case would not accept the argument, saying that a precis is not an official document of the court and that she ensures all the time, that prosecuting gardaí deliver such paperwork. She said that Court Documents required service. Rob pointing out to the judge that he had a video of Garda Walsh asking him to sign a declaration of service for this late night delivery, didn’t dissuade her. Judges differ, what can you do? Interestingly, had Rob wanted to complain to Garda Walsh’s sergeant, about this overtly threatening late night visit, he could have just walked down from his house to the squad car, and made his complaint to Garda Walsh’s chauffeur and Sergeant.

Rob’s other motion, we didn’t have case law or a copy of the District Court rules, so a balls was made of same.

How did Rob destroy the State’s case?

By not doing what was expected of him of course. He was expected to put it to the State’s witnesses that they were talking shite, with regard to the alleged abuse of Ms Barnado. And indeed he was supposed to put it to Garda Walsh, that he hadn’t demanded Rob’s identification under the Immigration act. Both the judge and the DPP remarked on this a number of times during the trial.

Rob had a different plan. If he couldn’t prove something that never happened, and indeed something that his video footage didn’t cover, then he wasn’t going to waste his breath. He was going to show that the sworn testimonies of both the State’s witnesses didn’t agree with each other, with the video evidence or the testimony provided by Rob and his witnesses. Why should he put it to either, that they were talking shite, when he could have them effectively put it to each other, sullying themselves in the process.

Reasonable doubt. Very reasonable.

To cut a seven or eight hour story short, allow me to post Mr Ševcik’s final statement. Even the decent DPP said that she’d not put an answer to it.

Mr Ševcik’s closing statement and argument
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The contradictions in the evidence before the court, and this is ever before one considers Sgt Costello’s statement, are such that the court cannot or reasonably return, a verdict of guilt.

Ms Barnado:

Ms Barnado says two feet is the distance between the entrance of the shop and the protesters when she exits the shop.

Ms Barnado says that the three protesters did not run at her. But that they immediately approached her when she came out of the shop.

Ms Barnado cannot remember having spoken to Sergeant Costello, after exiting the shop and prior to the alleged approach of the three protesters.

Ms Barnado cannot remember Sgt Costello being in the 2 foot gap with herself and the elusive Ms Corbet, when the three allegedly came at her. And she cannot of course remember the sergeant coming between her and the advancing three in that two foot gap. Judge, I cannot exploit this point to its potential and will leave it at that.

Ms Barnado Says that the camera outside the shop was purchased sometime after the day in question and most definitely had not been outside the shop on the day in question.

Ms Barnado has said in evidence, that eventhough she claims that the protesters have escalated the threat and abuse level of their protests over 18 months or so, and that she has been making complaints to the Gardaí, the whole time, that she has never once used her existing video equipment, two cameras at least point to where she claims most of the alleged threatening and abuse happens, to record and substantiate her claims for either the gardaí or the courts. She would rather use the safety and the privilege of the witness box to defame the protesters. This is despite the fact, that in evidence, she said that she’d do whatever it takes to protect her customers. When asked to elaborate upon what she’d be willing to do, she refused to answer.

Ms Barnado in evidence, said that she made complaints to the gardaí, on the day in question, about threatening and abusive signs and threatening and abusive behaviour with regard to the protesters. However, she was unable to give a single example of anything threatening or abusive about the signs. Furthermore and much more importantly, she in evidence, claimed that it was both the volume and the actions of the protesters that gave rise to her allegations of threatening and abusive behaviour.

Ms Barnado said in evidence that the gardaí, prior to going into the shop, to take her complaint, moved the protesters back from the front of the shop, but they moved back after the gardaí had left. This is a blatant untruth. The gardaí did not move the protesters back, prior to going into the shop. Furthermore, the gardaí did not leave the area and the protesters, who had at no point been lined up 2 feet from from the front of the shop, did not advance on the shop and come to a halt two feet from the front of it. Indeed, from the vidoe footage, when the two gardaí exit the shop, they along with Mr Long, walk between the shop and the protesters, over to the Grafton st side of the shop. They stop there and start to talk with Mr Long and another gentleman with a camera. Even then, people are observed to walk between this group and the shop. Thus, the protesters, at all times are more than 2 feet from the entrance of the shop, indeed, at all times they are more than the 4 or 5 feet from the shop that the garda has sworn a number of times, was the distance.

Ms Barnado insists that Ms Corbet was with her when she exited the shop. Despite the fact that it would be improbable that Ms Barnado could or would, exit the shop, if there were only 2 feet space for her to advance into, it would be physically impossible for two people to exit under these circumstances. We can show that Ms Corbet left long before Ms Barnado. On top of that, the court should not believe that the protesters were anywhere close to the shop entrance. Afterall, there were at least four gardaí present, one an inspector, another a sergeant and two uniformed gardaí, indeed one protester, the one who’d been using a camera had already been directed away under sections 8 and 9 (obstruction) of the POA act.

Garda:

The Garda said that there was no public order offence taking place when he entered the shop, contrary to the evidence of Ms Barnado.

Garda insists that he took a complaint from Ms Barnado yet admits that he wrote nothing in his notebook. He also admits that not producing a notebook to record a complaint, when one is being given, is “unusual.”

Garda insists that he was the one who directed Mr Long away under section 6 and 8 of the public order act. Mr Long’s name and address were taken, yet the garda has no record of this in his notebook. Video evidence shows that this garda did not direct Mr Long and shows that the garda that did, recorded Mr Long’s details in his notebook.

The garda defines an “intimate” or a “personal zone,” as being about a two foot radius around a person. He insists that protesters were 4 to 5 feet from the shop at all times. He said that when Ms Barnado walked out of the shop, that three protesters ran at her. Protesters would have been within Ms Barnado’s intimate zone, the moment she left the shop and running towards her would have been impossible.

Garda insists that himself and Sergeant Costello approached the protesters from behind. Yet when asked where he was situated prior to Ms Barnado’s exit he replied that he didn’t know. Again I am prejudiced in my defence as I cannot use the evidence of Sergeant Costello to fully refute this version of events.

The garda said that he had procured Sgt Costello’s statement as part of his investigation. He indicated that the mass of contradictions between his evidence and Sgt Costello’s statement was someone else’s problem, rather than his. I’m confident in my belief that the garda wishes it to be my problem.

Video Evidence:

Video evidence shows that there was a camera outside the shop on the day in question, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Video evidence shows that the protesters were neither lined up 2 feet from the shop nor 4 or 5 at any time, contrary to the sworn testimony of both the State’s witnesses.

Video evidence shows that the garda did not take Mr Long’s details and explains why the Garda did not record Mr Long’s details in his notebook. These details were recorded in the notebook of the garda that actually dealt with Mr Long.

Video evidence shows that Mr Long was not directed away from the area for threatening and abusive behaviour, contrary to the sworn testimony of the garda, he was directed away for allegedly obstructing the shop entrance.

Video evidence shows Ms Corbet leaving the shop at least 10 minutes prior to the shop being closed.

Video evidence shows a garda defining the “immediate area” as Dublin 2, with regard to directing Mr Long to leave the immediate area.

Video evidence shows a garda telling Mr Long that lawful excuse is not catered for in the Public Order Act.

Video evidence shows that prior to the gardaí entering the shop, they did not move the protesters back or direct them in any way, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Video evidence shows the prosecuting garda saying to Mr Long that all the protesters had been directed to leave the area. The video evidence shows this to be far from the truth.

Finally, the video evidence shows that the shutters of the shop were down at the time of my arrest. This is significant, in that the evidence of the State’s two witnesses argues that I was interfering with Ms Barnado whilst she was trying to close the shop. One can only wonder how the shutters came to be locked, with no sign of Ms Barnado, at the time of my arrest.

Ms Chojnacka’s Evidence:

Ms Chojnacka said that Sgt Costello had assaulted her when Ms Barnado exited the shop and that this was the incident that lead to my arrest. This has not been contradicted by any evidence or by any other means, therefore it stands as an undisputed fact.

Ms Chojnacka’s evidence puts Sgt Costello between the protesters and Ms Barnado as she exited the shop. This is contrary to the prosecuting garda’s sworn testimony and again, I’m prejudiced, by not being in a position to fully develop and explore this contradiction.

Ms Chojnacka’s evidence stated that Ms Barnado, upon exiting the shop, walked towards members of the gardaí, who were standing outside the shop, over on the left hand side and that no protester approached.

Aga stated that eventhough she had had her details taken that day, that she had neither approached nor run at Ms Barnado. She said her details were taken after she had complained about Sgt Costello pushing her.

Mr Long’s Evidence:

Mr Long said that protesters had not been directed to move back at any time prior to his leaving the area.

Mr Long, with his video evidence proved that there was a camera outside the shop, contrary to Ms Barnado’s evidence.

Mr Long’s testimony along with the agreeing video evidence, proves that the prosecuting garda is a stranger to the truth with regard to his insisting, multiple times under cross examination, that he had been the one who had directed Mr Long away from the area.

Mr Long proved that the prosecuting garda was a stranger to the truth with regard to his insisting that Mr Long had been directed away from the area for threatening and abusive behaviour.

Mr Long with his video evidence established two others things. Ms Corbet had left the shop before Mr Long left the area and before it was closed. He also established that prior to my arrest, I was wearing a backpack. This backpack is not recorded in the custody record. I shall talk more about this significant detail shortly.

The first witness, Ms Barnado, said that she would do “whatever it takes” to protect her customers.

The first witness also avoided the truth in her claims about when the camera outside the store was first put there. She was adamant that this camera was not purchased until after this alleged event.

I say that securing video footage of allegedly illegal activities would secure this protection that the witness so reasonably declares she wants to and will provide. One would reasonably conclude that this was one of the purposes that these cameras were purchased for in the first instance – to detect crime and to serve as evidence of that crime.

It was not my claim that the witness has such a duty of care – the witness herself has forcefully declared it.

Yet, she claims that illegal activities – unlawful protests, threatening, insulting and abusive protests (she claims to embrace lawful protest) – have been occurring and indeed escalating for a period of about 18 months.

This points to one of two conclusions:

i. That the witness cares not a jot for her business or her customers and that the expensive video cameras are merely decoration, that might at some undisclosed and incomprehensible time in the distant future, possibly act as a deterrent.

Or:

ii. That the video cameras have not once recorded a single unlawful act for more than 18 months of protest and public communication.

To add substance to the second point, the garda witness has discredited the first witness’ opinion as to what constitutes an offence. She claims that many offences were taking place as the gardaí entered her shop. The garda had to reluctantly admit that there were no such offences. Indeed the garda’s reluctance, amongst many other things, itself points to an emotional attachment that has clouded this trial. As well as the first witness’ opinion being shown for what it is, her honesty is also brought into question. She claimed that protesters had been directed by the gardaí prior to entering the shop. The garda rightly, for once, told the truth (the video evidence also shows this).

As for the garda’s evidence: The garda claims to have performed his duty with two protesters on the day in question, with regard to section 6 of the Public Order Act. 50% of this claim has been shown via video evidence, to be an utter and a blatant fabrication. In 50% of this claim, it has been shown that section 6 of the Public Order Act played no part. This cannot be disputed. On top of this, the garda has not told the truth, he claimed repeatedly that he was the person who directed Mr Long. As for the other 50% of this garda’s claims, we only have his word on it. One might be tempted to suggest that the first witness is in agreement with the garda on this point. However, this is far from the case. The positions of people, their momentum and many other descriptions that are necessary to paint a picture of what did or didn’t happen, are all in dispute, between the two witnesses. The first witness, when asked what had been shouted at her, by the three protesters and then the one protester, couldn’t tell us. She went on to suggest that what was said wasn’t the issue. She claimed that volume and proximity were the issues. With the garda we fared no better. As usual, he unusually failed to produce his notebook and record what was allegedly said. Indeed we have four police officers at this scene, we have gardaí, we have a sergeant and we have an inspector. And we have not the beginnings of a clue as to what was allegedly said. The court is expected to believe that three people rushed a lady advancing in her years, in plain sight of four police officers and started screaming at her incoherently, and that I, having been spoken to twice, by two different officers, was allowed to and went straight back to screaming right in her face. I’d honestly suggest, that had this been the initial description of my alleged crime, that at the very least, the honourable district Court would not have accepted jurisdiction, and would have wondered aloud, why the other two alleged lunatics were not arrested and prosecuted. But of course this was not the initial picture painted for the Court. This is what one is left with though, when one examines it. I say that it is the evidence itself, in this case, that is screaming insanely, without words or reason.

There is plenty of Doubt here, and all of it is reasonable. The prosecution, to quote R V Shippey: “cannot pick the plums and leave the duff,” the difference in this case being that it’s hard to distinguish a single plum. The prosecution has asked the Court to drink this watery soup and has provided a fork to accomplish it.

To compound all of this even further, there was another garda witness, whose statement has been provided to me as a part of a precis, but he himself was not provided for me to cross examine. This further prejudices me. Eventhough I say that this statement is as fictional as the other differing accounts we have heard, it would have facilitated me in attacking the prosecution’s case with even more of its own incredible and contradictory evidence. I say this fact on its own, on the balance of probabilities, a much lesser standard than ‘beyond reasonable doubt,’ means that I’m disabled in my defence, to the point of unfairness.

I say that this Court cannot, in good conscience, cherrypick a pathway through this mire, merely to see me in the worst light.

Finally, I must deal with the charges against me under the Immigration Act. There are three reasons as to why these charges should fail. Firstly there is a conflict of evidence. I say that I was not asked to produce identification under any Act, that it was to do with ensuring that I had not given false details. The garda says that I was asked under the Act, though he admits that he did so, to further the Public Order investigation. I spoke earlier of my backpack. Eventhough I was unaware of the specific legislation regarding my having to carry suitable identification, I was well aware that I had to carry such identification. My backpack did not make it to the custody record. My passport was in it. I say that the gardaí have misused their powers in how they have used this law. They’ve taken a shield and have turned it into a crude club. It could only have been worse if they’d dragged me from my bed, taken me to a station, and then, and only then, demanded that I produce my identification, under this Act.

To compound the issue further, my bag and passport, were tracked down by my friends and my passport was presented to the garda prior to my release, indeed my release was dependent upon it. At the very very least, I say that if the Judge decides to take these two charges seriously, then I have provided a very reasonable excuse for not having my identification immediately when it was required. I did not have it because the gardaí separated me from it, prior to demanding it.

The second reason these set of charges should fail is quite straight forward. Garda Walsh, under cross examination, admitted that he asked for my passport to further the investigation into the alleged public order offences. It follows that if there were no such offences, that there would be no logical or ethical reason to investigate them further.

The third reason is the most poignant. On the one hand, I’m being prosecuted for not identifying myself to the garda, under the Public Order Act. On the other hand I’m being prosecuted under the Immigration Act, because I failed to identify myself to a garda, to facilitate his investigation as to why I didn’t identify myself under the Public Order Act. This is a classic example of Double Jeopardy, with one missing element. The trying of this issue does not follow the trying of the other issue in a separate case. These two issues are being tried together at the same time. However, it is my argument, that the moment the Court comes to a determination regarding the Public Order matters, Double Jeopardy is immediately present should the Court move to consider the Immigration Act charges.

That concludes my closing arguments. Thank you Judge.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The courtroom was silent for a few moments after this.

The judge, said something that surprised even an old cynic like me. She said that she accepted Rob’s evidence.

She accepted that Rob had been arrested by Sergeant Costello. (Of course, had she read the sergeant’s statement, she’d have know that Costello too had claimed that Garda Walsh had been the arresting office).

She went on to tell Mr Ševcik and the rest of the court about “flash points,” and about the hard time gardaí have in policing public order. She said that she hadn’t even realised that there’d been an inspector present, until Rob had said so. This is not quite correct, Rob had gotten that fact out of Garda Walsh, shortly after he’d been turned of to Rob for cross-examination. Hey judges are human too, no biggie.

It was at this point that judge undone all the good work that she’d achieved thus far, and it was considerable. When Rob had testified, he’d said that he’d been on one end of the protest line and Aga, Ms Chojnacka had been at the other end. He said that when she’d been assaulted, he’d made his way to her side, to ensure that she was okay. He said that he’d ignored the sergeant (as opposed to putting him on his arse, I presume) and had followed Aga as she was taken about three yards away by two gardaí, who were demanding that she identify herself, to see what the issue was.

He said that Sergeant Costello had come up to him and demanded that he leave the area immediately under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. Rob produced a copy of the Act, handed it to the Sergeant and asked him to point out what it was that he had done, and what section of the Act, facilitated the Sergeant’s demands. The Sergeant ignored the paper and the request and demanded Rob’s details. Rob demanded his property back and had his arm ripped behind his back, for his troubles and was then arrested, by the sergeant, not Garda Walsh, who’d played no part in this whatsoever.

The judged after putting much emphasis on Rob having ignored the sergeant and even more on his not having immediately complied with the sergeant’s unsubstantiated demands, dismissed under the probation act, the charges. On faith she did this. In the belief, that because there was an inspector present, that the situation must have been tense and the protesters must have been responsible for it. I don’t begrudge her this faith. But I do not appreciate it. The only evidence of this flash point that was before the court, was the assault on Ms Chojnacka. Plus as I’ve said, Costello also claims that he was not the arresting officer.

She also dismissed the Immigration Act charges, stating that it was a misunderstanding and that Rob had produced his passport.

Rob left the courtroom with no criminal record whatsoever. But the probation act has left a bad taste in all our mouths.

We’ll get to examine the very same “misunderstanding” next February.

On the 15th, next week, in the brand new courts at the Phoenix Park. Ms Chojnacka, will go head to head with a garda from the Clontarf garda station, where she hopes to vindicate the right to free speech and public assembly. Plenty of video evidence to be had at this one too.

In closing I want to put my respect for Rob on the record. Even when, on the first day of this trial and things looked bleak. He held to his faith, in himself. He worked slowly and assuredly and achieved victory. Now there’s a faith that I can appreciate.

Rob (in the tie) and friends after his victory

On Thursday 2nd October 2008, more than two years after his ordeal began, Conor Cregan walked into Ennis District Court for the finale.

Conor Cregan and supporters

Here’s the short version of the story:

The match started. Inspector Tom Kennedy kicked off. He passed the ball towards the last minute substitute. But too late, Cregan had the ball before the substitute even got a look at it. The last minute substitute wandered off looking dazed and confused. Cregan passed the ball back to Kennedy. Kennedy next tries to give the ball to his next team-mate. Not quick enough though, Cregan intercepts, passes back to Kennedy and waits to see who’s next. Kennedy begins to see Conor’s plan and decides to pass it to a professional this time round. Too slow Tom. Cregan takes the ball; the professional is made to look like a complete amateur. Cregan taps it back to Kennedy.

Poor Inspector Kennedy sees three of his players stumbling around, trying to figure out what just hit them. I don’t know if any of this influenced his next move.

The inspector lined up his shot, kicked the football, as hard as he could, nearly busting the net. G… O… A… L!!!!!! (Own goal that is.)

“You’re in trouble aren’t you inspector?” suggested the Ref, almost paternally.

“I am,” reflected the dejected and ashamed looking inspector in such a voice that one knows the reflection derived from an informed place.

Case dismissed. Same with the second one.

On top of the victory, activists have been shown the writing on the wall. We have an admission that activists are singled out as cases for special treatment. The special treatment consists of confrontation, harassment and physical abuse. This special treatment is applied until activists give up on practicing their right to protest or in the case of others, give up their right to investigate international and national war crimes that nobody else’ll investigate.

Some people get up after you think you’ve knocked them down. Sometimes they get up, so unexpectedly and with so much force, inspectors who sometimes get flashes of their own writing on the wall, might just for once, get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

I spose it could have been a lot worse…

Yeah that’s right…

It might have gone to a place where Conor got to call some witnesses of his own after exposing the rest of Inspector Tom’s problem/team first. Things could have been a lot worse from the inspector’s point of view I spose…

Here’s the longer version of the day’s events

Conor Cregan has had two charges hanging over him for more than two years. This has gone all the way to the High Court and all the way back to Judge Mangan’s little patch, back in Ennis. On Thursday the second day of October, Conor and his McKenzie, Owen Rice, arrived in town for the final showdown in this epic battle.

The courtroom was pretty full, for a special sitting. There were a few short issues on first and they were dealt with in short order. The only lengthy issue, other than Conor’s two cases, was played out over the lunch break.

Inspector Tom called some guy, Brendan Mullin, an engineer from Shannon airport, who helped to buy land or something, he apparently expands and contracts the area of the aerodrome, defining the jurisdiction whereby the Air Transport and Navigation Act is applied. Or something…

What was interesting about this witness was not so much his evidence, but the fact that he should not have existed in the first place. Tom had added this witness to the squad without Conor Cregan’s prior knowledge. Moreover, Tom informed the court that this witnesses’ evidence was going to be used in both cases. Conor had been granted a Gary Doyle order years ago, when these two cases first started.

Conor quizzed the engineer in what seemed to be a bored manner after Mangan J. refused an application to dismiss, in spite of the fact that Conor should have been informed of the existence of the witness and his evidence, as per the Gary Doyle order, so that he might attempt to prepare a defence. Judge Mangan decided that he’d watch the farce and possibly decide at some point in the future if Conor had been prejudiced.

After softening up the first witness for a few minutes, Conor Cregan turned up the heat.

‘Do you have any legal training?’ Conor enquired, trying to ascertain if the witness had any actual legal might behind his ability to announce legal jurisdictions.

After asking the witness if he had any proof with him to prove that the party he said were owners of the property that defines the aerodrome, were the owners, and he didn’t, the Judge excused him and directed him back from whence he came, to procure some proofs of his claims.

The row of schoolchildren, who’d been brought to observe our justice system in action, seemed to come out of their state of disinterest as Inspector Tom’s first witness left the building and as the first hints of redness crept into his complexion.

Lillian O’Shea, airport police officer and airport fire brigade officer, both at the same time, takes the stand. Don’t ask me… Cutbacks or something…

Inspector Tom presses on, unaware, it would seem, that the seeds of destruction have already been sown, and encourages Officer Twoforthepriceofone to spin her tale.

Lillian tells those assembled that it’s the 23rd of July, some two years ago. It’s around midnight and Conor Cregan rides into view on a bicycle. Officer Twoforthepriceofone who’s manning the “Gantry,” near the entrance to the airport, recognises Conor from her many dealings with him in the past (and probably the odd photo or two) and decides to stop and to confront him. A brief chat later and Officer Twoforthepriceforone demands to know the details of Mr. Cregan’s lawful business at the airport. The witness tells the court that she has asserted her authority and yet, Mr. Cregan has told her that she has no authority, has gotten back on his bike and has cycled off in the direction of the terminal at the heart of the airport. Officer Twoforthepriceofone runs back to the Gantry to place a call to Inspector John “Sierra Papa” Martin, to sound the general alarm: There’s a bandit, or is it a banned person, coming his way.

The scene is set. An eyebrow Mexican wave begins on my right and circles around to my left. The kids are fully awake now. We’re not talking about maps anymore. Some dude has ignored the cops.

Inspector Kennedy handed the witness over to Conor with almost a flourish. Very arrogant of the inspector, considering it would be the signal for the onset of his humiliation. Not to mention what Officer Twoforthepriceofone was about to reveal to the court. Yeah, here’s what happens with a witness one is allowed to prepare for is examined.

Had Officer O’Shea presented her warrant card for Conor’s inspection? Like she’s supposed to, when requested to do so, as demanded by the Air Transport and Navigation act. She’d displayed her ID alright and demonstrated how she’d done so for the Judge. She seemed to offer a breast towards the Judge for his perusal. Whatever went through the Judge’s mind at this unusual juncture, he kept to himself. This vision was enhanced by the fact that the ID and warrant card, that had probably adorned the offered breast, was currently in front of the Judge. The warrant card had been tendered to the Judge when the witness was sworn in. Yup, you have to show the warrant card to the Judge when the court requires authorisation.

Anyway, after a brief lesson from Conor, who pointed out that the warrant card was at the back of the ID and that displaying the ID was not the same as displaying the warrant card, the witness seemed to have some difficulties in understanding, even Inspector Kennedy jumped into the discussion.

The kids around the courtroom were having a ball.

Finally, lesson learned, Twoforthepriceofone, when asked by Conor if she had established her authorisation by exhibiting her ID card, answered that she had.

Once Conor established that the witness hadn’t shown her warrant card, he began to question her some more, scoring points and gathering intelligence regarding the activities that take place at the airport. And poor Tom Kennedy had to sit there and watch it.

After Twoforthepriceofone learned that saying that the phrase: “stopped everyone” was not the same as saying that that “some were stopped,” Conor got her to make an interesting revelation or two:

Activists who have caused “problems” are to be stopped and harassed. They are to be stopped and harassed until they stop protesting or investigating.

A bank of photographs of activists and details about them are available to recognise those who’ve been singled out for special treatment.

Officer Twoforthepriceofone testified that her instructions to confront identified activists had arrived from various parties. One of those named was Inspector John “Sierra Papa” Martin.

Not wanting impressionable minds to be warped with reality, Judge Mangan informed the court that it was perfectly acceptable to form a list of potential ‘troublemakers’ for use at the airport. He repeated this a few times so that everybody understood. Cool.

What Judge Mangan didn’t comment on of course, was the point. I mean it’s perfectly okay for me to consider Judge Mangan to be somewhat of a potential idiot. It’s okay too for me to consider inspector Tom Kennedy to be a potential pliable muppet who is fully conscious of the swill he’s expecting the court and the public to swallow. But what if I act on these possibly unfounded beliefs? What if I end up confronting and assaulting the good Judge? That’s the point that the Judge missed. You can think what you want; it does not follow that you may break the law.

A sickly looking Inspector Kennedy, batting for the DPP, called his third witness. Garda Conor Fleming is a special garda who can simultaneously exist in many alternate realities. If anyone could turn this around for the Inspector, garda Fleming would.

Garda Fleming arrived at the airport a little after midnight and immediately began to phase shift into different dimensions, though this didn’t become apparent until Conor Cregan was offered the witness.

Conor was arrested before Fleming arrived.

Conor was not under arrest when Fleming arrived.

Conor was being detained when Fleming arrived.

Conor wasn’t being detained when Fleming arrived, Conor seemed to be enjoying the company of Sierra Papa and another officer, despite the fact that Fleming remembered Conor Cregan running up to him when he’d arrived, stating that he’d been assaulted.

Garda Fleming said that he’d investigated the complaint alleged by Conor. He said that he’d gathered the evidence and had cautioned Sierra Papa etc. He said that he’d been satisfied that Conor hadn’t been assaulted. Conor Cregan later pointed out to Fleming that had he watched the evidence that he’d collected from Conor, that he might have arrived at a different set of beliefs. Fleming hadn’t watched the video evidence that he’d taken from Conor. Inspector Kennedy got into an animated argument, mostly with himself about this video evidence. Even judge Mangan jumped in occasionally.

Fleming said to the court that he believed Conor was at the airport without lawful excuse. Apparently, in most of Fleming’s dimensions, one needs lawful excuse to enter an airport. The witness said that he had demanded under section 8 of the Public Order Act that Mr. Cregan leave the immediate vicinity.

Conor left the immediate vicinity by walking into the airport terminal building.

Once Conor had established the definition of “vicinity” with Fleming and managed to get the garda to revise a few times his estimate of how far Conor had walked into the building, before he was arrested, lunch was called.

This was the last that was seen of the schoolchildren as they filed out of the courtroom, talking animatedly.

After lunch, the intrepid garda Fleming was back in the stand and was slowly put out of his misery.

The afternoon’s interdimensional theme: Who arrested Conor?

Garda Fleming reckoned that Conor had been arrested in the airport building by Inspector Sierra Papa. Garda Fleming was very sure that he hadn’t arrested Conor at any time.

The summons said that Fleming was the arresting officer. Though in fairness, the summons was calling on Conor to answer to allegations about a crime that doesn’t exist in law.

A receipt signed by the member in charge said that Fleming had been the arresting officer.

Another row ensued with Inspector Kennedy around this time, with the Inspector babbling incoherently about the video footage again. He was not mollified by having it pointed out to him that he was confusing the video footage taken by CCTV with the footage shot by Conor on the night in question. The inspector desperately went into the fact that Conor had had to institute Judicial Review proceedings, just to have his Gary Doyle order complied with – he’d had his Gary Doyle order and he’d been given video footage and a transcript from the video that Conor had shot.

Conor excused the witness and Inspector Kennedy re-called his first witness once more. I almost felt sorry for the Inspector at this point, considering that he’d just said that the Gary Doyle order had been fully complied with. I almost felt sorry for Tom, who was turning a deathly purple colour.

Conor played around with the engineer a bit before demanding the deeds that identified the legal owners of Shannon airport. Brendan Mullin looked like a caged monkey and tuned to the Judge for a helping hand. Judge Mangan wasn’t allowing this farce to go any further, once he satisfied himself that Brendan hadn’t brought the necessary paperwork to establish his claims as fact. As Brendan’s testimony was being considered in both cases against Conor, the Judge binned both, without the details of the second being revealed.

Funny thing is, I cannot fathom why Inspector Tom added the engineer to his list of witnesses in the first place. Who in Christ’s name was going to dispute the area under the jurisdiction of the Air Transport and Navigation Act? I’m pretty damned sure Conor wasn’t going to.

Alternative link to article:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/89338

A short report describing the harassment experienced by protestors while displaying an anti-war banner at Shannon airport. The report highlights the fact that the Gardaí are either unaware of the law or do not practice it. This contrasts strongly with the claims by the government that gardaí are upholding civil and human rights at Shannon while at the same time facilitating the transport of US military supplies and CIA planes that are used for the transportation of torture victims.

Related Links: Report on the 2008 Shannon Peace CampReport of Oireachtas Committee Debate on Extraordinary RenditionOther Anti-War Features on Shannon

Paul O’Toole, Elaine O’Sullivan and yours truly infiltrated Shannon Airport yesterday to unveil a banner that read “US Military Out Of Shannon,” outside the entrance to the main terminal building.

I use the term “infiltrated,” lightly. In truth, we’d overshot the Peace Camp and ended up on the approach to the security checkpoint in the airport. We were behind two other cars that were stopped at the checkpoint and we were watching a group of Gardaí who were unlawfully preventing a group of activists, who were on foot, from entering the airport. After a quick chat with the occupants of the two cars in front of us they were waved on and it was our turn. The Gardaí gave a quick glance into our vehicle and without a single question waved us on too. It was like a scene out of Star Wars, where the Stormtrooper allows Luke Skwalker and Obiwan into the city after Obiwan uses the ‘Force’ and tells the Stormtrooper that there’s nothing to see and that there’s no reason to stop them.

Paul parked the car in the short-term car park. We took out one of the banners that we’d brought and made our way over to the entrance of the terminal. Paul and I waited beside two Gardaí as Elaine went into the terminal for a trip to the ladies. When Elaine came out we made our way over to the other side of the entrance and unfurled the banner. Elaine and I held the banner and Paul took pictures. We were waiting for about ten minutes and freezing before we came to the attention of the Gardaí.

The two Gardaí that Paul and I had stood beside initially, came over to us in a very business-like manner and after the initial greetings they got down to business. We were informed that we were engaged in an unlawful activity and that we’d have to leave. The Garda speaking at this point, after being questioned said he was enforcing the Air Navigation and Transport Act – Section 8. I didn’t correct this Garda with regard to this – section 8 is the wrong section. Section 33 is the section that he should have been aware as being the relevant section. A Garda has no power to enforce a law he is unaware of.

Understanding that it was section 33 that should have been used, I informed the Garda that I was not in violation of the Airport Navigation and Transport Act and that we were at the airport for a lawful purpose. I told him that were we there to protest and asked him if he considered protest to be unlawful. He had no answer for this and told me that he was acting under the instructions of the airport police (sounds similar to the actions of the Gardaí in Rossport). I then told the Garda that he was bound by his oath where he promised to uphold the Constitution and my rights. He answered that he was only following orders. To which I answered that the order that he was following was an unlawful one and that I would not be paying any attention to it. After he got over his amazement that I was disobeying his order he told me that I would have to follow his order or that there would be action taken. At this point the (big) Garda that had been interacting with Paul and Elaine came over to me and demanded my name and address under the Public Order Act. I informed this Garda that despite the fact that he had no business using this act to demand my name and address that I would comply. I decided not to get into a semantics-based argument on this because Section 33 of the Airport Navigation and Transport Act allows for an ’Authorised’ person to demand my name and address without supplying a reason for this demand. However, the Garda had demanded my name and address using the Public Order Act, and he had not cautioned me before doing this. I decided to explore this with him before supplying my details. I asked him what reasonable suspicion fuelled his belief that we were about to provoke a breach of the peace. He had no answer for this and just parroted his demand that I supply my name and address under the Public Order Act. I asked him if he felt that I was either a threat to security or if I were likely to provoke a breach of the peace in his opinion. He could not or would not answer this either. These were grounds to ignore both him and his order, but I gave my name and address at this point for reasons that I’ve already gone into.

At this point Elaine was giving a running commentary to Tim Hourigan via a phone. Tim was stuck outside the Airport with other activists. Paul continued to snap pictures and to ask the Gardaí questions regarding their want to quell legitimate protest and at the same time enable and facilitate genocide. The Gardaí had no answers for Paul either.

At one point in her conversation with Tim and before I’d given my name and address, Elaine told Tim that I might be arrested. To this the (big) Garda answered that nobody had said anything about arrest. A squad car and an Airport Police van pulled up at this point and the two Gardaí left us to have a conference with them. Lots of Airport Police emerged from the terminal to glare at us at this point. In the middle of all of this I got a phone call from a concerned Niall Harnett. I told Niall that discussions thus far had been reasonable and that we did not feel either threatened or in Danger. To the credit of the two Gardaí they were both well mannered and at no point did they put a hand on us or our banner. We gave Niall the names and numbers of the two Gardaí and made arrangements in case there were any arrests made.

When the conference between the Gardaí and the Airport Police was over the two Gardaí came back to us. They stood talking with us and were blocking the banner from public view. Elaine informed them of this and asked them to move, which they did. The two Gardaí moved to my side between me and the Airport Police who were still glaring at us. The (big) Garda took Elaine’s and Paul’s details after this and then approached me asking me for my date of birth. I informed him that I’d already given him my name and address and that I’d be giving him nothing else. Realising that this particular game was going nowhere he did not pursue it further.

Whilst all this was happening a small wagtail came in for a landing a few feet to our rear. Paul immediately started to photograph it. Some six foot two ‘knob’ dressed in the uniform of an Airport cop came over to Paul and demanded that he stop taking photos as he did not have permission from Aer Rianta. Paul told this person that he was unaware of what law he was breaking. The ‘knob’ informed Paul that he was in violation of the Air Navigation and Transport Act. When questioned by Paul with regard to what section was being violated the ‘knob’ replied that Paul was violating “Sec – shun – thir – tee – tree” as he made a hasty retreat to hide behind the pack of Airport Police that had gathered outside the entrance to my left. The poor wagtail took all of this in his stride as did we and he continued to chirp merrily, oblivious to the bullshit going on around him. We have some footage of him which we’ve christened “The footage that the Authorities in Shannon didn’t want you to see.

We were asked a few times more would we be leaving by the two Gardaí, who were answered in the negative.

We displayed the banner for another ten to fifteen minutes before we succumbed to the weather and decided to leave of our own volition. The (big) Garda told me that he had joined the Gardaí for the right reasons as we were leaving. I told him that I accepted this without reservation, but that he should not allow himself to be used for unlawful purposes and asked him to research what constituted an ‘unlawful order.’ He replied that he would and we left to meet our friends outside the airport. Paul picked up the car whilst Elaine and I took the banner and displayed it to everyone we passed as we walked to the checkpoint where our fellow activists were interacting with a large group Gardaí.

One might be tempted to refer to our action as a victory of sorts, but on reflection this would be quite wrong. We were but a token representation of the group who’d made their way to Shannon to protest lawfully. We were lucky that we got to practice our lawful rights and we deplore the fact that others were unlawfully prevented from practicing their lawful and civil rights. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85694

Our experience begs that many questions be asked. A few weeks ago at a debate in the Oireachtas, which I attended in the company of Ed Horgan and Conor Cregan it was said that the Gardaí were currently engaged in training with regard to them being in a position to enforce Human Rights and specifically so at Shannon airport – this was specifically in regard to policing Extraordinary Rendition flights which frequent Shannon Airport on a frighteningly regular basis. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85567 How can the Gardaí enforce such lofty goals when they refuse to recognise basic Civil Rights? How can they ensure International Law is adhered to when they don’t even understand simple acts like the Air Navigation and Transport Act and the Public Order Act?

Here’s a copy of Section 33 of the Air Transport and Navigation Act. Please note that there is no prohibition whatsoever on photography or a requirement that persons seek the authorisation of Aer Rianta.

33.—(1) An authorised officer, in the interest of the proper operation, or the security or safety, of an aerodrome, or the security or safety of persons, aircraft or other property thereon, may do all or any of the following things—

( a ) stop, detain for such time as is reasonably necessary for the exercise of any of his powers under this section, and search any person or vehicle on an aerodrome;

( b ) require any person on an aerodrome to—

(i) give his name and address and to produce other evidence of his identity;

(ii) state the purpose of his being on the aerodrome;

(iii) account for any baggage or other property which may be in his possession;

( c ) order any person

(i) who refuses to give his name or address, or to produce other evidence of his identity, or

(ii) who refuses to state the purpose of his being on the aerodrome, or

(iii) who refuses to account for any baggage or other property in his possession, or

(iv) who gives a name or address or states a purpose of his being on the aerodrome which is known, or is reasonably suspected, by the authorised officer to be false or fictitious, or

(v) whom he knows not to have, or whom he reasonably suspects of not having, a lawful reason for being on the aerodrome,

to leave the aerodrome, or any part thereof, or he may remove such person from the aerodrome, or any part thereof, or he may arrest that person without warrant,

( d ) arrest without warrant any person- 4

(i) who assaults, or whom he reasonably suspects to have assaulted, another person on an aerodrome, or

(ii) whom he knows to have, or whom he reasonably suspects of having contravened section 12 or 19, or

(iii) whom he knows to have, or reasonably suspects of having, a stolen article in his possession.

(2) Where an authorised officer, who is not a member of the Garda Síochána, arrests a person under this section, he shall, forthwith, deliver such person into the custody of a member of the Garda Síochána to be dealt with in accordance with law.

(3) Where an authorised officer arrests a person pursuant to the powers conferred on him by subsection (1) (d) (iii), he may retain in his possession any article which he knows to have been, or reasonably suspects of having been, stolen until it has been established whether or not the article was stolen.

(4) A person who was ordered by an authorised officer to leave an aerodrome or part of an aerodrome, or who was removed from an aerodrome or part of an aerodrome by an authorised officer, shall not, on the same day, without the permission of an authorised officer, return to the aerodrome or the part of the aerodrome which he was ordered to leave, or from which he was removed, as the case may be.

(5) Any person who obstructs or impedes an authorised officer in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section, or who fails to comply with any lawful requirement of an authorised officer under this section, shall be guilty of an offence.

(6) In this section, “authorised officer” has the same meaning as in section 15 of the Act of 1950 (as amended by this Act).

(Big) Garda deals with Elaine

Paul between two apple trees planted in memory of dear friends

Alternative link for this article: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85717

Co-authored with Elaine O’Sullivan


An interview with Orla

On Friday 9th June 2006, five people found themselves served with notices to appear in the High Court to answer as to why they allegedly disobeyed an order from the court, preventing them from obstructing contractors from connecting up the polluted river Deel as their main water supply.

This issue has been developing in Pallaskenry in Limerick, where there is opposition to the County Council’s intentions for the local water supply. The current situation came about following protests against the plan to place the local community on a larger group scheme for the provision of water. At present the locality is served by a supply of water from a local freshwater spring. The larger group scheme would mean that the community would instead be served by water from the River Deel, which is highly polluted.

This article contains a report from this court appearance.

Excerpt:
Orla Kaiser was last to present her version of the issue… She read from a statement that she had prepared earlier and had amended on the train from Limerick. Despite being very nervous her voice held no tremor or apology. She began with a quote from an EU directive:

“Water is not a commercial product like any other, but rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.”

She admitted to violating the order against her. The whole courtroom erupted into applause at this point, the judge even managed a smile. Those representing Limerick County Council, neither clapped, smiled nor approved.

Previous indymedia articles on the issue: Echoes of Rossport as Pallaskenry 5 face Jail | Limerick County Council, who are you working for? | A Call For Support | Why Must We Go to Prison for the Safety of their Families? | Support for Pallaskenry & Bleach Lough Spring Water Retention Group | No Spring Water – No Vote! | UPDATE: 2 more prepared to risk jail

Full Court Report:
The High Court today found out why it is not wise to cross a woman from Limerick, and in particular, a redhead.

Donal O Brien, the spokesman and inspiration for many involved in this protest was one of those who was named and called to appear before the court. He was unable to attend this sitting due to the fact that he is seriously ill in hospital due to all the pressures mounted on him by Limerick County Council. One of his children is also currently sitting exams. Our hearts and our best wishes go out to him and his family. We only met him last week for the first time and he impressed us a lot. We left Pallaskenry knowing that the people of Pallaskenry were very well represented. Donal is a man of excellent convictions and high moral fortitude and is a man who will and has readily put the needs of others above his own.

Get well soon Donal.

Leaving the Court The Judge arrived in chamber in a smart dark suit, offset by a light blue tie.

Other issues were dealt with in a business-like fashion before the case in question arose.

Nothing untoward happened with the first two defendants. Both agreed to abide by the court’s orders.

Next up was Noreen Ryan, a Councillor on Limerick County Council. Noreen told the judge that she had not taken part in any protest or obstruction last Wednesday. She was there, she said, to represent the people she was elected to represent. She told us earlier that there were two other councillors who were now taking the part of the peoples of Kildimo and Pallaskenry. She spoke of a vote taken by the supreme body of the County Council in 1997, to allow the people in question continued access to the water supply from the Bleach Lough. She said that she’d never heard of any resolution or vote that has countered this. She gave an undertaking to continue to obey the law as she has always done and that for her the protest will continue internally within Limerick County Council.

I felt heartened by all this, but was beginning to think the cause lost. Orla must have sensed this because she looked back at me, smiled and gave me a reassuring wink.

It worked.

Orla Kaiser was last to present her version of the issue.

Dressed in a fetching light grey skirt and white blouse, vividly contrasted by her flaming red hair, she stood and faced the judge.

She pointed out that she had been unable to seek legal representation due to the sneaky tactic employed by the council. They served her late Friday evening, as they had done with all the others.

She read from a statement that she had prepared earlier and had ammended on the train from Limerick. Despite being very nervous her voice held no tremor or apology.

She began with a quote from an EU directive: “Water is not a commercial product like any other, but rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.”

She admitted to violating the order against her. The whole courtroom erupted into applause at this point, the judge even managed a smile. Those representing Limerick County Council, neither clapped, smiled nor approved.

She went on to illustrate how the council has avoided ever discussing the issue at hand other than issuing orders and threats.

“LCC are trying to quieten the voices of Kildimo and Pallaskenry by forcing an injunction on local campaigners. This is despite the fact that a Judicial review is to be held on Thursday…..”

At this point the prosecution made some smarmy remarks, but was laughed at by the courtroom, in general and literally.

The Judge had to explain the difference between what a ‘protest’ is and what ‘obstruction’ is to yet more laughter.

“It’s obstruction, not protest. People have the right to protest!”

Facing the mass media The Judge was forced at this point to ask Orla, whether she would obey the court’s order.

The courtroom went silent.

Orla pointed out to the court that she is a nursing mother and that she has two children, the youngest being six months new.

“It is not of my free will to disobey the court of this country, my country, and it breaks my heart that it has come to this….”

“I cannot give an undertaking that I will end the protest at the ‘white line’ in Pallaskenry.”

The judge did not want to jail this brave and remarkable woman, and all but begged the prosecution to come to some arrangement.

Result – Orla is not in prison and will continue to defy the court order. The Judge said he was, “happy to allow the motion to be adjourned,” until this Thursday to be decided in parallel with the Judicial review.

The judge adjourned the case and all of us, including red-faced council representatives left the stifling courtroom.

We all gave three cheers for the defendants before leaving to face a media circus outside.

I look forwards to the Rally to be held in Pallaskenry at 9pm tonight. I’m delighted that Orla had to buy a ticket for the return trip to Limerick (she’d only bought a one-way ticket to Dublin this morning) and that she’ll have to now compose a speech for the party/protest tonight.

Related Links:
Echoes of Rossport as Pallaskenry 5 face Jail. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76575
Limerick County Council, who are you working for? http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76531
A Call For Support http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76488
Why Must We Go to Prison for the Safety of their Families? http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76451
Support for Pallaskenry & Bleach Lough Spring Water Retention Group. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76464
No Spring Water – No Vote! http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74440

Orla Leaves With Copy Of The Constitution, Baby Son And Partner
Orla Leaves With Copy Of The Constitution, Baby Son And Partner
Noreen Ryan Takes A Turn In Front Of The Cameras
Noreen Ryan Takes A Turn In Front Of The Cameras

Joe Higgins In A Supportive Role
Joe Higgins In A Supportive Role

Bleach Lough
Bleach Lough

Alternative link to article:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/76583