Posts Tagged ‘Garda’

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.

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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.

The Irish State doesn’t like dissent. That’s obvious now, more than ever. When we see images of gardaí, in riot gear, beating kids who are sitting down and protesting peacefully, even if Irish television waits a week to show it, one cannot but help see the obvious. If you’re not happy, keep it to yourself.

Now that the State is finally near the melting point, the gardaí et al have become more open in their fascist mission. They’re not so bothered any more if the public at large sees that they’re really only a group, mostly of thugs who have had their dubious skills put to use rather than have them sign on for the dole.

Always gather the evidence

I’ve been working with a particular group of dissenters for close to two years now. Arrest after arrest, court case after court case and it becomes easy to study the State’s methodology. It becomes easy to defeat. After all, they’re a bunch of fucking eejits that have been using the same methods forever and expecting them to continue to work forever. Admittedly some of these methods are not as obvious as beating the rights out of people, not that that hasn’t happened here too, it has! For the most part all these methods boil down to one or two single purposes. The first being to dissuade new activists from taking to the streets, and the second, to destroy individual activists with multiple arrests and subsequent convictions – “death by a thousand cuts.” The first purpose is pretty much realised by having the newbies witness what happens to the others. The Public Order Act is the main tool used, and even then, I’ve yet to meet a single garda who begins to understand it. Many judges and officers of the DPP are pretty clueless too. And I’m being generous when I use the word “clueless” as the alternative is insidious and requires wilfulness.

Having seen what the State was up to with the likes of Shell To Sea, the Tara activists, the Shannon peace activists and a multitude of others, it was a rare pleasure to come across A-Liberation and be asked to work with them, to study and destroy the State’s campaign against them. A-Liberation are a group of animal rights activists. Animal rights activists are generally a prime target for shutting down and practicing on. They’re on the fringe of activism and thus have less of a support network than more “mainstream” activists. Most activism has to do with human rights of one type or another. Most mainstream activists would suggest to the animal rights activists that one cannot expect to win rights for “non-human animals” when rights for human animals are only paid lip service to. It’s not that the animal rights activists don’t get this, believe me, they do, it’s simply that they see the non-human animal kingdom as needing a voice and a caring helping hand. A-Liberation most certainly recognise that human rights are merely a paint job that fools the masses and facilitates abusers sleeping at night. This particular group has been suffering human rights abuses for as long as I’ve known them. And they’ve met these abuses head on. They’re not going to leave the streets any time soon and have made a habit of making fools of the gardaí in the courts, in front of judges, who for the most part have shown them nothing but contempt.

The latest exposure happened just a couple of weeks back.

On Tuesday 23rd of November, Agnieszka Chojnacka walked calmly and purposefully into the Circuit Court at the new facility in Dublin’s Parkgate Street. She was appealing a conviction handed down to her by the brother of Noel Dempsey TD. Dempsey J. a short, self-important little creep, had shut down Aga’s defence during her trial in the District Court, when she was fighting charges of: Obstructing an officer in the course of his duty (Section 19 of the Public Order Act) and failure to provide her name and address to the very same gimp (Section 24 of the Public Order Act). The Section 19 charge was easily defeated as it was obviously a work of pathetic fiction. However, the demand for details was not so easily defeated, via legal argument anyway. If one counted the fact that Aga was not told specifically that failure to provide details constituted a criminal offence, then there was a surefire technicality to see this bullshit charge tossed too. Dempsey wanted to hear none of this and instead amused himself by abusing the defendant and her witnesses. Who needs justice when you can get away with threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour (Section 6 of the Public Order Act).

Anyway, the argument that Aga wanted to advance in her defence was that Sergeant Tallon, the arresting goon, didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to facilitate a demand for her details in the first place. Dempsey was hearing none of it. He wouldn’t allow the young woman to play her audio recording of her encounter with Tallon and he couldn’t be bothered to give a reason as to why. Question after question that was put to the Sergeant didn’t have to be answered according to the minister’s brother, a former small town and tiny minded solicitor. For a finish he convicted her of the Section 24 charge and fined her €500. To rub salt into wounds, the little judge heaped lavish praise upon the sergeant for his alleged patience. I’ll give a very thorough accounting of the sergeant’s actions in this work and folks can judge him for themselves. Aga initiated the appeal before leaving the Court building. She wasn’t intimidated by the Judge or the conviction, she knew that she’d done nothing wrong and she was confident in her ability to prove it.

Shortly after this conviction Aga annihilated another set of false charges against her, read about this *HERE*. These two sets of charges are the only sets of charges ever to have been brought against this woman. Between the first two court cases and this appeal, the dirty tricks brigade did their utmost to make life difficult for the confident activist. Shortly after teaching one Garda Reilly a trick or two on the Stand and destroying the false accusations she’d dared to bring into the Court, various members of Aga’s family in Poland, including her mother, were visited by Interpol. This didn’t put her off though. If anything, it made her more determined to clear her name.

Before I continue I want to do a little biography on Sergeant Tallon:

Fergal Leddy received blows from a baton to the back of the head and shoulder. This happened during the ill-fated Reclaim The Streets protest in Dublin on May 6th 2002. Garda Paul Tallon was accused of being the garda who assaulted Fergal. Tallon’s first trial collapsed when the jury, after some 4 hours of deliberation, failed to reach a majority verdict – this was in 2004, more than 2 years after the assault on Mr Leddy. In 2005 Tallon was cleared by another jury of the Assault. He was 31 at the time. Tallon was one of a number of gardaí that day that earned notoriety with activists. Many gardaí had removed shoulder numbers, others were not in uniform and most of them disgraced themselves. Indymedia.ie made a name for itself as a very serious news organisation when pictures, videos and accounts began to appear.

When the Garda Complaints Board began to investigate its own thugs, witnesses were given a follow up visit by garda friends of the gardaí allegedly being investigated. This particular disgrace was later cited as being one of the reasons for the formation of the paint job, known as the “Garda Ombudsman.”

Interestingly too, Tallon’s current superintendent is none other than Joe Gannon. Gannon disgraced himself spectacularly in Mayo when he allowed heavy machinery to be driven onto private property and through a large group of protesters. Gannon was in charge of the garda thugs sent to Mayo to beat the rights out of Shell To Sea. For his gallant actions, including the re-writing of Irish law, where the power of arrest was removed from the Public Order Act, Gannon was put in charge in Pearse St. Garda Station upon his return to Dublin.

Now let me describe the events that took two court cases to expose. Let me describe what the video and audio evidence proves. Two court cases to expose what would take 5 minutes to prove to anyone else who cared to examine the evidence. In fairness, one representative of the DPP offered to examine the evidence and withdraw the case if it showed what we said that it showed. I don’t know whether she bothered to examine the evidence or not, the case most certainly didn’t disappear. She did, mind you.

On Saturday, August 29th of 2009, A-Liberation held their weekly protest outside Barnados Furriers on Lower Grafton Street in Dublin. The vegan activists had known Tallon for some time at this point and he was currently hanging around behind the protesters with Garda Kearns. Being well used to garda attempts to fit them up, the activists had taken to using video cameras and voice recorders to ensure that garda lies would be exposed in any court case brought against them.

Edmund Long, a veteran campaigner, had spotted Tallon in the reflection of the shop window, acting suspiciously, and shortly afterwards he filmed him and Kearns chatting with a homeless gentleman and sharing a laugh. The Sergeant later testified, on both occasions, that he’d taken no complaints prior to approaching Ed and the group.

The shop began to close up. The shutter over the main entrance opened briefly to admit the homeless gentleman, they must have spotted him on their own video equipment from inside the shop. As the homeless gentleman emerged from the shop, he thrust his crotch forward and grabbed his neck in a mocking and insulting gesture towards the activists. He ignored the fact that Ms Bartolome was filming him, he passed her by and made his way over to Mr Long who was also filming him. He slapped Mr Long’s camera, turning it off and started to give out to the activist, demanding not to be filmed and other incoherent nonsense. After a short while the homeless gentleman was pulled away by a friend of his. A few seconds after this, Tallon arrived in front of Ed and began to accuse him of violating the homeless man’s constitutional rights. Ed just stared at Tallon and said nothing.

Of interest here is the fact that Tallon testified, that he had not seen the homeless man make the gestures he made as he exited the shop. Add to this that it was a busy Saturday on Lower Grafton Street, close to 5.30pm (as Tallon said in evidence) it is hard to know how Tallon could have heard what transpired between Ed and the homeless man. Tallon was unable to tell the appeal Court how it was that he knew what had been said.

Gloria Bartolome who’d been filming continued to film and positioned herself closer to Tallon and Ed, so that her camera might capture what was being said. Tallon eventually noticed her and told her to move back, which she did. The homeless man, immediately jumped between her and Tallon and began to push her back. It’s interesting to note at this point that the homeless gentleman didn’t seem to mind being filmed by Ms Bartolome as he jumped left and right, to frustrate the activist’s attempt to film what was going on between Tallon and Ed. Just then, garda Kearns returned from a brief sojourn he’d taken towards Upper Grafton St. Tallon placed his hand on the homeless gentleman’s shoulder and told him that he’d take care of it. And take care of it he did, he gestured to Garda Kearns to take over from the homeless man. Kearns ordered Ms Bartolome to step back and he accused her of obstructing the sergeant in the course of his duty. Ms Bartolome moved back, again, and attempted to continue filming. At this point, Kearns directed Ms Bartolome to leave the area under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. Ms Bartolome, fearing arrest and the destruction or loss of her video evidence, reluctantly left the scene, telling Kearns that she knew her rights.

As the video evidence shows, and more so Aga’s audio evidence, the young lady up until this point, had continued her protest and then had engaged in a friendly chat about animal rights with a member of the public.

When the homeless man had been jumping around, in his bid to prevent Ms Bartolome from filming, he’d jumped to his left and had crashed into Ms Chojnacka who didn’t react in any way, physically or verbally. She was well used to this gentleman abusing the activists in front of the gardaí. He’d even issued death threats in front of them, against Ed, on camera, on the odd occasion or two.

Shortly after Ms Bartolome left the scene with her valuable evidence, the sergeant called the homeless man over, to tell Ed not to film him. He immediately started to shout about his alleged hatred of being filmed. It was at this point that Aga made her one and only contribution to the sorry saga. She simply informed the homeless man that he was in a public place. Immediately after this, Tallon turned around, pushed her backwards and told her to step back. “Babyface,” garda Kearns, immediately went over to Aga to inform her that nobody had pushed her and that she should step back, as what was going on, had nothing whatsoever to do with her. Aga moved well back and waited for Tallon to finish with Ed, so that they could go home.

Tallon finally finished abusing and talking shite to Mr Long and after getting the details that he probably knew by heart at this stage (he’d previously arrested and prosecuted Ed twice), he directed the patient activist to leave the area under Section 8 of the Public Order Act. Immediately after this, he stalked over to Agnieszka and demanded her details.

The young woman told the goon that she’d no problems with giving her details after he told her why he thought he was entitled to them. The sergeant informed her that she’d engaged in threatening and abusive behaviour (Section 6 of the Public Order Act). The activist then asked if someone had made a complaint about her. The sergeant didn’t bother to answer and continued to demand details. When she didn’t answer fast enough the sergeant arrested her, to the absolute outrage of bystanders who’d gathered to watch the debacle. Two of them approached the sergeant, the first a male who told the sergeant that he’d never seen anything like this in his life (he later told the remaining activists that he was a policeman in the UK) and second, a woman who asked the sergeant if he wanted to arrest her too as she’d also done nothing wrong. The sergeant fobbed both the witnesses off by telling them to go to Pearse Street. He then put the young woman in the unmarked car and took her to Harcourt Terrace Garda Station. Thus we were never able to secure the testimonies of either of these two witnesses. Good thing that Tom McSherry, the roving camera operator got it all on video and that Aga got it on audio. It had been Tom’s job that day to forgo his right to protest and instead film the protest from afar and to film from less far, in the event of an event. A job he did to perfection.

At the station, Aga was searched by a female officer and her handbag, which is clearly shown in the video evidence at the time of her arrest was handed back out to Tallon. This is Aga’s version of what happened and it’s borne out by the fact that there is no record of this handbag in the garda custody record. During the first trial, Tallon sidestepped responsibility for this omission by blaming his fellow officers, he claimed that handing in evidence to the custody officer wasn’t his responsibility and that someone else had failed in their duty. Aga claims that her phone, which was in the bag, had been interfered with and that one of the numbers in the phone’s memory had been dialled. She didn’t bother to go into this during the appeal as the Herald had already publicised it after the first trial: http://www.herald.ie/national-news/city-news/antifur-protester-is-fined-8364500-over-row-outside-shop-2086727.html

Now that I’ve pointed to the Herald article by Andrew Phelan, I might as well point out that the appeal referred to by it refers to an appeal that Ed later took against a conviction secured by Tallon against him. Ed made bits of Tallon and the DPP in this appeal and it’s a tale I intend to go into in great detail at a later date.

Now, let’s look at the appeal.

The young accountant dressed in a smart brown suit. To look at her you’d not think she’d say boo to a ghost. She looks the perfect victim. To see her as a victim, timid or afraid to fight her corner, is to underestimate this remarkable woman on a massive scale. The appeal hearing began at noon. The traditional time for a showdown. Tallon took the stand immediately, his swaggering and confident gait an offence to those of us who knew the truth. He maintained this air of confidence through his examination by Mr Henry, “the Penguin” as we’d long since named him. Mr Henry finished with the sergeant by asking him if he remembered listening to Aga’s audio evidence during the previous trial and hearing how many times he’d demanded Aga’s details. Aga and I, her McKenzie Friend, exchanged glances at this point. It was important. It was important for two reasons. The first being that it would now be easy for Aga to introduce her audio evidence, considering that the Penguin and the sergeant both remembered it from the first trial. The second reason it stood out was of course that it had not been played during the first trial. Judge Dempsy in his infinite capacity to disable a defence, had not allowed it to be played – it was for this reason and this reason alone, that Aga had decided not to take the stand herself – myself and Dempsey had had a bit of an argument about this. So at this unusual juncture, both Aga and myself would like to thank the Penguin for his help and to ask for his understanding as to why we didn’t get into this particular detail on the day – and of course to apologise for the various arsekickings that Aga delivered directly to him during the day’s proceedings – nothing personal dude! Good wholesome fun all the same!

Anyway, Tallon tried to maintain his arrogant composure during the cross-examination. He lost it in the first few minutes and took to staring at his hands which were joined together in front of him, face down. Question after question exposed his bullshit. He insisted that Aga had been told to move back on more than one occasion. This facilitated Aga in reading from his précis (summary of evidence) to him and then him having to admit that the précis did seem to indicate that she’d only been moved back on the one occasion (albeit it by Tallon pushing her and Babyface interceding and asking her to move back). The précis and Tallon claimed (in the first trial, not in the second, until Aga made a big deal of it) that the activist had obstructed the sergeant with a video camera. The DPP objected to this line of questioning considering that the obstruction charges were no more. It was at this point that Aga demonstrated how to efficiently butcher a penguin, which in itself was interesting considering that the young vegan abhors the meat trade. She told the judge that she was not trying to resurrect the obstruction charge. She said that even when the prima facie evidence in a case is shown to be flawed and the case dismissed, that the reasonable suspicion that facilitated the whole thing was expected to survive and that it was this alleged reasonable suspicion that she was getting at. The judge told her to carry on.

Tallon couldn’t explain how the more than three hours of video and audio footage, that the president of the District Court had ordered be handed over to the prosecution, long before the first trial, didn’t contain a single frame of Aga holding or using a video camera, or any reference to this figment of Tallon’s less than articulate imagination. Indeed, it had been our argument that Tallon was mistaking Aga for Ms Bartolome, the lady who’d been sent away for filming by Babyface. We’d argued this with the first DPP who was initially prosecuting. She agreed that if the video showed this that she’d withdraw the case. Of course the video shows exactly this and as I’ve said it was the initial DPP who disappeared, not the case. Anyhow this still made for some very powerful argument in court. You see Tallon says in his precis that Aga obstructs him with a camera and that Babyface moves her back because of this. In other words Babyface only moves Aga once and it’s for this imaginary camera incident. The video and audio evidence both show that Babyface only speaks to Aga on a single occasion, when she informs the homeless man that he’s in a public place.

Tallon couldn’t explain how it was that he could possibly know what the homeless man had been saying to Ed prior to his intervention. Tallon waffled on about coming between Mr Long and the homeless gentleman and hearing what was going on. It was a beautiful trap. Aga left the sergeant drone on about this before pointing out that is was bullshit, after all, the video evidence showed that the homeless man’s friend had dragged him away prior to the sergeant’s arrival.

Another important question from Aga established that Tallon had collected no evidence or testimony after Aga’s arrest. This was an important question for a number of reasons. Primarily it was aimed at showing the unreasonableness of the Threatening, Abusive and Insulting behaviour allegation (Section 6 of the Public Order Act) that Tallon had initially thrown at Aga. After all, Tallon had not bothered to charge Aga with this, and she was wondering why, considering that he’d gathered no evidence after the arrest to facilitate not bringing this charge. Tallon tried to get out of this bind by insisting that he’d meant the group of activists generally when he’d made this allegation. The fact that he’d previously stated that he’d neither seen anything unlawful nor taken a complaint prior to approaching Ed, and that he could give no example of a Section 6 offence after approaching Ed, didn’t make his story look very convincing. Secondly, Babyface, under cross examination by Aga (he’d been ordered to leave the court while Tallon was giving evidence) admitted that he’d prepared a statement and given it to Tallon after Aga’s arrest. On top of the contradiction he helpfully provided, the sergeant hadn’t bothered to give Aga a copy of this statement when he was initially ordered to provide her with a précis. Tut tut sergeant!

This article’s getting very long so I’ll leave off there with the cross examination of Tallon, needless to say, most of Aga’s questions contained a hidden kick in the arse, delivered deftly by the smiling lady each time Tallon wandered aimlessly into her various traps.

Babyface was a joy on the stand. He mostly told the truth. He couldn’t advance a reason as to why he ordered Ms Bartolome away after she had complied with his direction to move back. He admitted that neither himself nor Tallon had taken the homeless man’s details or given him any lawful directions, even after, as Aga pointed out, the video evidence showed that he couldn’t possibly have failed to notice that the homeless man was in the process of assaulting and obstructing Ms Bartolome when he intervened after Tallon had put his hand gently on the homeless man’s shoulder and told his wannabe assistant in a paternal tone that he’d deal with the matter. And deal with it he did, Babyface immediately sprung into action and Gloria was sent home.

Aga took the stand herself on this occasion. And she mastered the Penguin. He didn’t even bother to ask her any questions about her audio recording when she finished with her testimony and him (lucky for him).

When Aga came back from the stand she stood and told the judge that she’d finished with the defence and she offered the floor to the Penguin before she made her closing summation. The Penguin told the judge that he thought that the evidence spoke for itself. The judge looked at the Penguin incredulously for a while before agreeing with him. Aga went to stand again to deliver her closing argument. The judge told her that she didn’t need to bother and he granted her the appeal.

Her name is clear once again. Well done Aga! An epic battle. And goddamn entertaining too!

The Story In Pictures

Ed films Tallon, Babyface and the homeless man having a chat

Ed films homeless man leaving the gardaí and walking towards the shop

Ed films the homeless man leaving the shop and gesturing towards the activists

Glo films homeless man confronting Ed and hitting his camera

Glo films homeless man's friend pull him away prior to Tallon's arrival

Glo films Tallon arrive and he immediately begins to accuse/harass Ed

Glo films homeless man as he assaults her and obstructs her attempts to film Tallon and Ed (note that Tallon is watching this)

Tom films Babyface taking over the harassment of Glo from the homeless man - he directs her to leave the area

Tom films Babyface telling Aga that nobody has pushed her and asking her to move back (note that Aga doesn't have a video camera)

Tom films Tallon demanding Aga's details (note the handbag that Tallon fancied)

Tom films Tallon arresting Aga

Tom films English policeman(?) tell Tallon that he's never seen anything like this in his life

Tom films female bystander suggest that Tallon arrest her also as she's done nothing wrong too

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/

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