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Images: Irish Civil Rights Attacked At War Demo

Irish Civil rights attacked at Anti War demo

by Joe Carolan
Socialist Worker (Ireland)

Civil rights in Dublin city have again come under attack for the third time in two weeks, when the Irish police force, the Gardai drove paddy wagons into an anti war march as it attempted to take to the streets. The demonstration of about 300 people had just finished a loud but peaceful protest at the U.S. embassy, where they were addressed by John Gormley- TD for the Green Party, Joe Higgins- TD for the Socialist Party and Kieran Allen, editor of Socialist Worker, amongst others.

Speakers condemned the bombing of Kharom in Afghanistan where over 200 villagers have died from Allied attacks. Speakers from the campaign to end sanctions in Iraq told of the 6000 children that die each month because the US and UK forbid medical supplies to get through. A speaker from Residents against Racism condemned the racist nature of the war, and argued for solidarity with Ireland's Muslim community in the face of racist attacks on the streets and arson threats to Dublin's mosques. The use of police baton charges on peaceful anti-privatisation protestors the Wednesday before at the Burlington hotel was also condemned, with Kieran Allen from Socialist Worker making the point that Western governments were using the events of September 11 to curtail our civil rights and liberties. He warned that Bush, Blair and indeed the Irish government were trying to criminalise protest, and brand those opposed to war, privatisation or globalisation "terrorists".

Because of the support and participation of Tony Blair's government in the attacks and bombings, protestors applauded the suggestion to take the demonstration up to the British embassy, which was a ten minute walk away. People began assembling on the road, and banners were taken out. Suddenly, a line of Gardai formed in front of us, and told people to get off the road. Kieran, through the microphone, reminded them that we had the constitutional right to assembly, portest and to march to the British embassy. He was then physically set upon by two gardai.

Nearby paddy wagons drove dangerously into the crowd, and the front of the demonstration was rushed by Garda reinforcements. Kieran was flung into the paddy wagon, as the crowd roared "peaceful protest!" and "shame!". Another protestor, Donal, was reminding people that we had the legal right to march and protest on the streets of Ireland, when he was pulled and choked by another three Gardai. He was visibly physically manhandled in front of the demonstration, as hundreds of people shouted "Garda brutality- no way! Our civil rights are here to stay!". I saw a woman being physically choked by Gardai, as they attempted to fling more people into the van. The paddy wagon drove off, again dangerously through the crowd around it, to nearby Donnybrook Garda station.

People voted with their feet and walked through police lines and around the remaining paddy wagons. As the Dublin police helicopter hovered overhead, and police reinforcements flanked us, we marched on the British embassy as was our democratic right. Our deep disgust at Tony Blair's hypocrisy and participation in terrorist bombing of Afghan civilians echoed throughout the affluent, leafy suburbs. Passing cars honked their support as hundreds of voices insisted "Afghanistan needs...Food not Bombs!"

But many were now concerned of the attack by the police, and a lecturer from Maynooth University reminded the police how baton charges on Civil rights protestors in Derry on the 5th of October 1968, sparked a mass movement that nearly toppled the corrupt Northern Irish state. He argued we were now witnessing the same attacks on our rights on the streets of Dublin. In an impressive display of solidarity, most of the 300 protestors outside the British embassy then marched on Donnybrook police station, and with arms linked and in lines of four, again asserted our rights to march on the streets of Dublin. By this stage, the Irish media had arrived in force, and the police notably retreated.

The march arrived at Donnybrook strong, loud and confident. A mass picket was placed on the police station, which drew the attention of hundreds of passerbys, including the dozen or so moustachioed members of Ireland's secret political police, the Special Branch. After about an hour of assertive chants in defence of civil rights and the right to protest, Kieran and Donal were released charged with offences under Section 6 of the Public Order Act. As people jubilantly cheered, both insisted that they would continue to build the anti capitalist and anti war movement, and that a key test of our civil rights in Dublin would be the rally against the war at the Dail this Tuesday at 6.30pm. The anti war movement in Dublin is mobilising for a massive turn out, to show our Government that US bombers are not welcome on Irish soil, and that the majority of Irish people rejected government attempts to further involve us in military alliances with the resounding No vote to the Nice treaty. We will also be standing up for our civil rights against a police force that is increasingly being seen as short tempered, heavy handed and contemptuous to the constitutional rights of Irish citizens to protest.

ALL OUT AGAINST THE WAR 6.30 pm Rally at Dail Eireann, Kildare Street, Dublin THis Tuesday 16th October

Photos of US Embassy arrests in Dublin at


see also subsequent report on police riot in Dublin at

Photo of Garda baton charge on Globalise Resistance anti privatisation rally

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