éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has condemned the conviction of two party activists on charges related to a peaceful protest against the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition's bailout of Anglo Irish Bank.
Leeson described as “farcical” the fact that the first convictions secured by the Twenty-Six County state in relation to the financial meltdown at Anglo Irish Bank were peaceful protesters, not the bankers and politicians who caused the meltdown and subsequent economic collapse.
The two activists, John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill were convicted yesterday [Tuesday] in the Criminal Courts of Justice at Parkgate Street, Dublin of public order offences relating to a peaceful protest at Anglo Irish Headquarters in the capital on May 15 last year. They are scheduled to reappear before the court to have sentencing confirmed next Tuesday [January 25]. Both will be appealing their convictions.
The trial of five other éirígí activists, which was also due to commence yesterday, was adjourned. Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Se, the four activists arrested after unveiling a banner from the roof of the foyer of the bank, have had their trial on charges of trespass adjourned until April 14 as a result of Garda witnesses not appearing in court.
Daithí Mac An Mháistír's case was also adjourned following a defence submission for a different judge to hear his case, which was acceded to. He is now set to stand trial on May 9 for public order offences also related to the protest.
Following the outcome of yesterday’s trial, Leeson said: “Today seen the first convictions connected to the collapse of the public banking sector and the Twenty-Six County government’s criminal bailout of them.
“However, those convicted were not the bankers, developers and politicians whose greed and corruption brought about that collapse and bankrupted the public finances, but two activists engaged in an entirely peaceful protest, who went to the aid of four of their colleagues who had been assaulted by Gardaí.”
Leeson added: “The Twenty-Six County state’s treatment of these activists stands in stark contrast to its treatment of the politicians and business people, the golden circle, who created this financial crisis. Peaceful protesters are being dragged before the courts and working class families are suffering increasing hardship and poverty as a result of the savage cutbacks imposed in order to bail out the banks. Yet those responsible for these vast social and economic crimes continue to live wealthy and extravagant lifestyles free from the fear of arrest and imprisonment.”
“Yesterday’s trial was a blatant attempt by the state to intimidate and criminalise those engaged in peaceful protest. éirígí will not be intimidated by such bully boy tactics and remains as committed as ever to resisting the cutbacks and bailouts implemented by the government in Leinster House on behalf of their masters in the IMF.”
Echoing Leeson's condemnation of the conviction, éirígí Tir Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig roundly condemned the state for its stance of protecting those responsible for the economic crisis. "It is obvious that the state have the agenda of protecting the bankers, developers and politicians who have left the working people of Ireland facing hardship just to pay off the mistakes made by the wealthy elite" he said. "Here we have peaceful protesters who came out to show the opposition which many people felt towards the bank bailout and now those peaceful protesters have been wrongly deemed criminals. The real criminals are those bankers, developers and politicians who caused the economic crisis and it those individuals who the public want to see before the courts, not peaceful protesters."