Jobstown Not Guilty – An Op-Ed by Ger Devereux
So the verdict is in for the trial of the year so far and it’s a resounding not guilty.
I have to admit I’m buzzing after hearing the verdict not just because the lads are free but also because this verdict is a huge blow against the political establishment in Ireland.
Make no mistake about it this verdict will send shockwaves through the political establishment who wanted to make an example of those who dared to protest at the then Tanaiste responsible for bringing in savage austerity against working class communities.
If the verdict had gone the other way it would have been used to scare people from engaging in peaceful protest and to criminalise those like myself who would have continued to protest regardless.
The water meter protests scared the living hell out of the establishment, so with their friends in the media we were all made out as nutters, wasters, dissidents and one TD even compared us to fucking ISIS.
When this media onslaught didn’t work they decided to criminalise the water meter protesters, dozens ended up in court and some were jailed.
Communities across Ireland who hadn’t seen a Garda in years were suddenly awoken to see the fascinating site of scores of Gardai standing around a hole in the ground looking confused.
No resources for gangland criminality, house break-ins, anti-social behaviour etc, yet we’ll find scores of Gardai to basically be private security for Denis O’Brien, indeed they even set up a Garda specialised unit to keep an eye on us all.
So then came the Jobstown protest on 15th November 2014.
I remember the day of the Jobstown protest, as myself and other socialist Republicans were involved in a protest outside Denis O’Briens Today FM because of his involvement in the water meter installations, and because of the one-sided reporting of the Irish media in regards to the water meter issue.
During the protest, I and others started receiving phone calls from those involved in a protest against Joan Burton in Jobstown. I was tempted to jump on a bus to Tallaght to join in but I didn’t think it would last as long as it did and who could have known just how big a deal that protest would become.
Yes, they blocked her car for a couple of hours but the political establishment and its friends in the media especially RTE vilified those involved in the protest.
In February 2015 for two weeks we had the Garda dawn raids and arrests against these “dangerous criminal protesters” one of which, Scott Masterson, was handcuffed in front of his young child while making the school lunches.
Compare this to Sean Fitzpatrick whose solicitor got a phone call from the Gardai to arrange an interview despite him being wanted for crashing the country’s economy.
For many who took part in the Jobstown protest the Gardai bang on the door never came, but every morning for a couple of weeks there was an anxious wait to see if it would happen and some even informed their employer that if they didn’t show up for work some morning then blame Joan Burton.
For the Gardai to act like this meant political pressure was applied and when it was leaked that some of the protesters were to be charged with false imprisonment, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, then it was clear the state was going all in to try to criminalise peaceful protest.
The idea that people can be charged with false imprisonment, despite there being around 50 Gardai at the scene, is laughable except that the state tried to have people imprisoned for life for engaging in their right to protest.
Thank god for video evidence as nearly every witness including Burton, her assistant and all the Gardai committed perjury. If this trial had taken place in the so-called ‘special criminal court’ then as I type this they would now be in jail.
Be under no illusion if the state had of believed it could have got away with it then the Jobstown accused would have been tried in this political/military court.
As the dust settles on this verdict there are a few things to remember;
- There is another Jobstown trial due next year which includes a good friend of mine and Saoradh activist Peter “Herbie” Herbert.
- After today’s verdict, all other protesters facing trial should have had all charges dropped.
- The state wasted millions on this trial which could have gone towards essential services cut by austerity measures.
- The not guilty verdict means the jury did not believe the statements made by roughly 100 Gardai which shows again that the Irish people are losing faith in this corrupt police force.
Let’s not forget Joan Burton, the once self-proclaimed champion of the working class. There would have been no trial without her statement to the Gardai and in her evidence, to the court she said she was in fear of her life and has had nightmares about the protest.
Well, shame on you Joan for dragging these people through the courts. It was bad enough that you and your Government brought massive austerity to that community but then you tried to criminalise them.
I had looked forward to watching the news afterwards but as usual, the RTE coverage was a lesson in spin. #JobstownNotGuilty
Ger Devereux is an Irish Socialist Republican and a Saoradh activist based in Dublin