In recent weeks the right-wing Fine Oibre coalition and much of the equally right-wing press have confidentially asserted that the protests against water-charges and other forms of punitive taxation have largely dissipated in the face of government determination to pursue its programme of state-sanctioned “austerity”. The visible back-slapping of Fine Gael and Labour ministers and TDanna, not to mention the praise of sycophantic newspaper columnists and radio hosts, has been enough to raise the ire of even the most placid of individuals.
So it must have come as something of a nasty surprise to establishment Ireland when tens of thousands of men, women and children braved the torrential downpours on Saturday to fill the streets of the capital with one of the larger demonstrations against the formation of Uisce Éireann – Irish Water that we’ve seen in quite a while. Far from being resigned to their powerlessness it seems that the anger of Seán and Síle Citizen is growing apace, and most are looking forward to the general election due to be held sometime in the next several months. The poll-driven anxieties of Fine Gael and, to a far greater extent, the Labour Party, that an electoral armageddon may loom over the horizon seem entirely justified. Meanwhile the wayward hares of Fianna Fáil, fearing the left-wing and centre-left hounds nipping at their heels, are ready to jump into bed with their one-time civil war foes, all concerns of nominal ideological difference cast aside. Are we now facing the prospect of the most conservative administration taking office in Dublin since the days when the Free State regimists held sway?
If the revelations of the last few days are anything to go by it seems that the groundwork is being laid for a new Daorstát Éireann, an unfree state of Ireland. From thejournal.ie:
“ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TDs have written to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in relation to claims gardaí have been spying on anti-water charge protesters.
Earlier today, the Irish Daily Mail claimed a team led by Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan, husband of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, has spent six months compiling profiles on protesters, including TD Paul Murphy, and their whereabouts.
The paper reports that the group is operating under the name Operation Mizen and says gardaí plan to extend the Dublin-based unit nationwide.”
Police officers spying on the elected members of a parliament? It fills one with foreboding for the future; a future that has perhaps already arrived.
“ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TD Paul Murphy has been banned from holding a street and door-to-door collection for his party in south-west Dublin.
A letter to Murphy from a senior Garda officer says he won’t be allowed carry out the collection, and cites a section of the Street and House to House Collections Act 1962 as the reason.
The Section in question states:A Chief Superintendent shall not grant a collection permit for any collection in respect of which he [sic] is of opinion that — (c) the proceeds of the collection or any portion thereof would be used in such a manner as to encourage, either directly or indirectly, the commission of an unlawful act.“