So Paul Murphy TD and Joan Collins TD, members of Dáil Éireann or the lower house of the Irish legislature, and four local government councillors are to stand trial on various charges relating to the anti-austerity protests that have been making the headlines in recent times, with one facing criminal trial for involvement in the supposed “false imprisonment” of the Tánaiste and Labour Party boss, Joan Burton, in late 2014. That allegation stems from the November protests in Jobstown, Tallaght, when Burton was delayed for nearly two hours in her exit from the area by demonstrators taking to the road outside An Cosán, the civic centre she was visiting. No threats were made against her person nor did she suffer any physical harm during the confrontation, where she was safely ensconced behind a wall of gardaí and her attendant flunkies, and at most all she endured was an embarrassing challenge to her innate sense of superiority.
The most important thing that the six persecuted politicians have in common is their membership of political parties on the Irish Left, namely the Anti Austerity Alliance and the United Left. The expected show trials seem to be one outcome of Operation Mizen, the secret investigation by the Gardaí into the activities of the diverse anti-austerity movement, which included spying on a number of elected representatives, coupled with attempts to legally impede some Opposition parties from canvassing for donations. To put this into context, could one imagine the NYPD placing members of the House of Representatives or New York City Council under surveillance because of their campaigning on domestic socio-economic issues? Could one imagine representatives like Jerrold Nadler or Yvette Clark being arrested, their homes raided, their politics placed on criminal trial? Could one imagine the US Democratic Party being banned from seeking donations from members of the American general public to support its running?
Incredibly some of the right-wing news media are acting as cheer-leaders for the witch-hunts being pursued by the coalition government, running patently absurd “scare stories” to justify the new regime of political policing. It’s as if Fox News and the FBI had linked up to orchestrate the future arrest and prosecution of Bernie Sanders on whatever fanciful charges sprang to mind, directed by the animus of an incumbent Trump-Carson presidency. The ultra-conservatives and the petty-partitionists of the Dublin establishment may fear loosing mastery of
our their republic to the rabble-hordes of Sinn Féin and the “Far Left” yet they are the ones who pose the greatest danger to the full and unfettered expression of our democratic freedoms.