Dé Máirt, Samhain 09, 2010

Protest Against Garda Brutality

Protest Against Garda Brutality. Assemble at 6pm, Wednesday, November 10th at the Wolfe Tone Monument, Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, before marching to Pearse Street Garda Barracks.

Over the course of the last number of days a large volume of video and photographic evidence has emerged of the Garda attack on student protesters on Wednesday last (November 3). The story that this footage tells sharply contradicts the version of events that have been peddled by the Garda press office and the main media outlets.
Viewers of RTÉ’s main television news programme on Wednesday night could have been forgiven for believing that the ‘violence’ had consisted of a few minutes of relatively minor scuffles outside of the Department of Finance building. No footage of Gardaí in full riot gear beating defenceless and submissive protesters, or Gardaí dragging protesters by the hair, or Gardaí on horses charging into protesters, or Garda attack dogs straining on their leads, were seen by the hundreds of thousands who tuned into the ‘national’ broadcaster.

Nor did RTÉ see fit to broadcast to the people of Ireland the bloodied faces and split heads of the young people who felt the full force of the Garda batons. That the ‘violence’ came almost exclusively from the Gardaí, that it lasted for well over an hour or that it spread from Merrion Row to Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street was all deemed not worthy of mention by the Montrose censors.

And in the immediate aftermath of the Garda onslaught many other private media outlets followed RTÉ’s lead, choosing to focus on ridiculous fantasies about ‘militants’ and ‘extremists’ who supposedly ‘hijacked’ the students’ protest. Journalist after journalist repeated the ludicrous suggestion that up to two thousand intelligent young people had allowed themselves to be ‘hijacked’ by a number of named organisations including éirígí. Not one journalist or commentator thought to ask how precisely so many people, all of whom were in possession of their full faculties, could have been duped into taking part in a building occupation, a sit down protest and other forms of protest.

It seems it is easier to believe in the republican bogey man than the prospect of educated, intelligent young people thinking for themselves. Easier to talk of looney left hijackings than the possibility of young people robustly defending their right to be educated and their right to protest.

Thankfully the days of the RTÉ and Tony O’Reilly media monopoly are over. Even as the Garda attack was continuing word was spreading via mobile phone and internet across the country and the world. By the following morning tens of thousands of people already knew that the official version of events was nothing but a web of lies. With each passing day ever greater numbers of people are learning how the forces of the Twenty-Six County state dealt with dissent on November 3rd 2010.

On Wednesday next (November 10) the student groups Free Education for Everybody (FEE) and Students in Solidarity have organised an anti-Garda brutality march. People are asked to assemble at the Wolfe Tone Monument for 6pm before marching to Pearse Street Garda barracks. Speaking in advance of the protest, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson encouraged people to join the protest:

“The Garda attack on the students last Wednesday demonstrated once again the true nature of this state. The political establishment and the Garda are quite happy to allow people to march around Dublin city until their feet ache. But should anyone dare to engage in a more direct form of protest such as a building occupation or a sit down protest, or should they refuse to do the bidding of the Garda the punishment is as rapid as it is brutal. The people of Erris in Mayo learned this lesson the hard way over the course of the last five years.

“In May a completely peaceful éirígí protest, in the form of a rooftop banner drop at Anglo Irish Bank, was attacked by members of the public order unit – the same cowboys that ran amok in the Department of Finance last week. Seven members of our party are to go on trial next year on trumped up charges arising from that Garda attack.”

Leeson continued, “It is no accident that last week’s protest was dealt with so harshly, coming as it did just four weeks before the 2011 blood budget. The government and the wider political establishment are sending out a very clear message to the people of this state. They intend to dish out their neo-liberal medicine on December 7th and if you don’t like it you can lump it. And if you protest in a meaningful way you can expect a baton or boot in response.

“These are incredibly important times for the people of Ireland. The shape of our economy and society for generations to come will be decided over the next couple of years. I would encourage everyone who believes in the right to protest to come along to Wednesday’s protest and show solidarity with the students who were attacked. We have to show the Garda and the government that we won’t allow ourselves to be beaten off our own streets.”

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