Ireland has seen some controversial measures by the Garda Siochana with regards to what has been dubbed “political policing” by some politicians and journalists the past week.
Within the last 7 days, 11 Anti Austerity and Anti-Irish Water charges protestors (including political party members) had their homes raided by up to 8 law enforcement officers at a time. Some of those arrested were as young as 14.
The manner in which the arrests were carried out has been heavily criticized, with regards to the timing of such arrests (some as early as 7 in the morning) and the waste of Garda resources used to execute the arrests (24 policemen were used to carry out 4 arrests).
One such arrest involved Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who opened his door to 6 Gardai (policemen) who raided his home, and then hauled him to the police station for hours of questioning regarding an incident which occurred in November 2014.This involved the Irish minister for Social Protection Joan Burton who, after implementing extremely harsh and controversial tax measures and budget cuts, met unwelcoming crowds when she presented herself in one of Dublin’s biggest socially disadvantaged areas, Jobstown, Tallaght.
Rather then address the crowds or answer questions, the minister sat in her car on her phone while protestors chanted slogans and obstructed her vehicle. A primarily peaceful protest, the most extreme element’s occurred when the Minister was hit by a water balloon from one of the protestors. A cement brick was also hurled at a Garda vehicle by a bystander.
Burton has advocated a number of controversial and harsh austerity measures to repair the damage of the Irish Banking crisis, in which the mistakes and debts of bankers sank the Irish economy, and plummeted the country into debt, the burden of which was then passed to the taxpayer. The Minister has also oversaw the illegal privatization of Ireland’s water resources.
2 months after the events in jobstown, 11 people including 2 children and 3 political opponents of the Ministers Party, Labour, have been arrested.
Also, efforts are being made on behalf of the government, and Irish media, to stifle publicity about the arrests
“Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy was silenced when he attempted to raise concerns over “political policing” in Ireland’s parliament on Thursday.
The Ceann Comhairle, responsible for chairing Irish parliamentary debates, ruled he was out of order. Murphy’s microphone was subsequently switched off”
Are such actions an attack on the right to protest and free speech? And, more alarmingly, is political policing being used to quench opposition in the run up to Irish General election? The arrests are blatantly an attempt to criminalize the Irish Water protestors, however to the contrary, the events seemed to have reinforced the view of many that the Irish government is quite openly, resorting to desperate measures to quench any political opposition to them and their policies.
Outrage at such authoritarian measures have been expressed at numerous protests throughout Ireland, and even abroad, with a protest taking place outside the Irish embassy in London last Wednesday.