BRIEF REPORT ON THE TWO DUBLIN PROTEST MARCHES HELD ON SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2007 :
One of the placards carried by an RSF protestor outside Croke Park on Saturday , February 24 , 2007 .
Incidentally - and apparently , under "...Section Eight of the Criminal Justice Bill 2004..." (which was quoted and used by the Gardai against the protestors outside Croke Park) a member of the State Gardai can deem it an 'offence' to put the hood of your jacket up and can not only request , demand and/or insist that you remove your hood , but can - and did at the protest , a number of times - actually physically pull your hood down . The rain on Saturday , February 24 , at Croke Park was heavy and prolonged and the Gardai took great delight in pulling down the jacket hoods of the protestors and telling them that , should they put the hood back up , they would be arrested immediately . However , those with umbrellas were left unmolested.......
John Horan , Republican Sinn Fein , Dublin , photographed today outside the Garden Of Remembrance, Parnell Square , Dublin .
At approximately 12.15pm , RSF members and supporters gathered at the Parnell Monument in O'Connell Street (near Parnell Square) holding banners in support of the 'Shell 2 Sea' campaign , whose protest march was due to leave from outside the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm . There was about one dozen RSF people at the Parnell Monument when , at approximately 1.20pm , a Garda Superintendent and nine of his fellow uniformed colleagues bustled their way into the centre of the RSF people and announced that they were all under arrest for breaching the 'Public Order Act' !
The Gardai were immediately challenged on their assertion , and replied that this particular RSF gathering "....was an illegal street meeting held without notification to the proper authorities.." . 'Verbals' ensued between both groups , with the RSF people insisting that they would not be detered from showing their support for the 'S2S' campaigners , and the Superintendent and his colleagues demanding that the RSF group should proceed to the white Garda 'Transit'-type van (parked outside the Parnell Mooney pub a few metres away) or else they would be man-handled to the vehicle . It should be noted here that no traffic was being blocked by the RSF people , nor was there trouble of any kind , before the Gardai arrived on the scene .
Eventually - after more brief discussion - a compromise was reached : the dozen or so RSF team were 'allowed' by the Gardai to continue with their peaceful picket on a spot which was practically just across the road (nearer to the Ambassador Cinema site than they had originally been) and the Superintendent and his colleagues 'escorted' the RSF people to their 'new' position ! The combined group had barely taken a few steps when the Gardai stood in front of one of the RSF supporters and accused him , amongst other things , of being "cheeky" . The young lad in question was surrounded by the Gardai , roughly searched and told he would be immediately arrested if he was seen in the city centre anytime that day !
In the event , the RSF people decided to add their presence to the numbers already gathered a few metres up the road , nearer to the Garden Of Remembrance . The Superintendent and his men did not object.....
Republican Sinn Fein had approximately fifty members and supporters on the 'S2S' protest march , but left said march early to make their way to Croke Park for the picket which they were holding there to highlight - for one thing - the fact that the visiting team were representative of a country which continues to claim jurisdiction over Irish territory . Again , an 'escort' was provided by about one-hundred Gardai : on arrival at the protest site - by which time the RSF contingent now numbered approximately 100 people - a group of RSF members and supporters , who had travelled separately to that area , brought the number of protestors to between 100 and 150 people . The protest was lively , colourful , loud - and peaceful , despite the predictions of doom announced and forecast by the majority of media commentators . Dozens of flags , banners and posters were held aloft by the protestors in the , by now , heavy rainfall . A letter explaining the reasons for the protest was (as near as possible!) handed in to the GAA Office , and Ruairi Mor O Bradaigh and Des Dalton delivered a fine principled speech and/or interviews to the dozen or so media representatives present .
Also , it was particularly heartening to see a group from the IRSP standing , with their own banner , shoulder-to-shoulder with other Irish Republicans at this protest.
The Garda Riot Squad and their 'ordinary' uniformed colleagues , and their 'betters' in the Special Branch (political police) 'provided' an 'escort' out of the area for the protestors , when the latter had decided that they had made their point .
All in all - apart from the weather (!) it was a day well spent , in putting across a message that needs to be put across : that , as long as any foreign entity claims jurisdiction over any part of this island , there will be those amongst us who will object . No amount of 'sporting fixtures' or other such 'niceties' will change that fact , and no amount of State harassment will prevent us from doing so !