British #SpyCops in Ireland: What is @FitzgeraldFrncs covering up? An interview with Jason Kirkpatrick

I spoke to Jason Kirkpatrick targeted by British undercover police across several countries including Germany, N Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The officer was Mark Kennedy attached to the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU.) Kennedy operated in many European countries including several deployments to Ireland.

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Jason Kirkpatrick wants Irish Dept of Justice to explain role of British undercover police spying on him in Ireland

The NPOIU is a political policing unit set up to illicitly disrupt political networks social movements and family campaigns challenging abuses by the police.

The unit was preceded by the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS) set up in 1968 to infiltrate protest movements opposed to the US war in Vietnam.   Both units not only spied on political organisations and social movements, but on campaigns against police abuses and murder in the UK.

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Mark Kennedy, using the name Mark Stone, from the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was deployed multiple times in Ireland. The Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana refuse to cooperate so far with Jason Kirkpatrick.

Jason is currently bringing legal cases in several jurisdictions with an aim of expanding the Pitchford Inquiry into the scope and nature of undercover policing set up by the current UK prime minister Teresa May. Currently this inquiry is limited to undercover policing in England and Wales. Jason and others are pushing to see this expanded to cover all areas that British undercover police targeted them.

It is understood that the NPOIU operated using contractual terms of agreements with several nation states/police units around the deployment of British officers from the unit in those states. It’s likely that some of the information held by the Irish police force includes such an agreement. It is also common practice for information fed back by British undercover police to their units is shared with the police force of the country they are operating in.

Currently the Irish state refuses to publish an existing report into Mark Kennedys deployments across Ireland, or who he was spying on and what information he has supplied to both the British and Irish states. Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald has called for another report from Commissioner O Sullivan, a move that should be understood as a stalling tactic to resist any transparency around some really dodgy policing

Full interview below

More info on the use of undercover police to spy and disrupt black justice movements can found at The Guardian here

Trumps Press Release re Denis O Brien in full

To date, no Irish media reprinted any of the specific content within Donald Trump’s press release about Denis O Brien’s links to the Clinton Foundation,  and Clinton family.

What’s even more striking, no media outlet even offers a hyperlink in its own self censoring coverage to the actual press release itself.

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The press release is in full below.  As we can see, none of it is original content, or even amounts to any sort of political analysis. Its simply copy paste of pieces, mostly uncontested facts already written online. Much of it from within Ireland.

Irish media outlets might consider their choice not to link or include any specifics outlined within  ( eg O Briens donating to the Clinton Foundation whilst getting contracts from the US state department for mobile phone contract in Haiti) as pragmatic.

That I’m afraid is internalised logic, which any observer can see is  based on internalising a fear of O Brien’s power and justifying something politica as a business decision.  And that’s a much bigger news than any copy paste job Trumps team fires out.

Update: 12.49. Hattip to Marcus O’Cuilleanáin for this link

‘Upon legal advice, RTÉ will not be repeating the exact words used in the statement’ – 1:27mins

 

Here’s the presser in full.

Image designed and courtesy of Eamonn Crudden

– September 28, 2016 –

FOLLOW THE MONEY: DENIS O’BRIEN – ANOTHER CORRUPT CLINTON FRIEND

DENIS O’BRIEN IS A BILLIONAIRE “CELL PHONE TYCOON” WITH CLOSE TIES TO THE CLINTONS AND ALSO ONE OF THE “MOST REVILED FIGURES” IN IRELAND

Denis O’Brien Is A “Cell Phone Tycoon” Who Owns Digicel, “A Mobile Phone Network Provider That Operates In Central America, The Caribbean, And The Pacific Islands.” “Cell phone tycoon Denis O’Brien runs and owns 94% of Digicel, a mobile phone network provider that operates in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. The company was supposed to hold its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 but pulled it in October due to “volatility” in the markets. In recent years, O’Brien has been on a deal-making binge in Ireland, snapping up distressed assets on the cheap and turning them around.” (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

  • NOTE: As Of April 26, 2016, O’Brien Is Worth $6.1 Billion USD. (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Also Founded The Esat Telecom Group PLC And Is The Chair Of The Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. “O’Brien also founded the Esat Telecom Group plc. He is a Director on the US Board of Concern Worldwide, a member of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, and chair of the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. In addition, he is Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. In 2000, he established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally which aim to alleviate disadvantaged communities.” (Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Is One Of The “Most Reviled” Figures In Ireland Over Revelations About His Business Affairs. “O’Brien is Ireland’s leading philanthropist – but now also one of the most reviled figures there. It is an extraordinary paradox that surrounds his business success – how he made his fortune and now how he is handling revelations about his banking and business affairs. For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien Is A Major Clinton Foundation Supporter And Bill Clinton’s “Friend”

(Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Denis J. O’Brien And Digicel Cumulatively Donated $10,000,001 To $25,000,000 To The Clinton Foundation. (“Contributor And Grantor Information,” Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Bill Clinton And O’Brien Developed “A Close Working Relationship” During Their Work Together In Haiti. “Mr Clinton and Mr. O’Brien formed a close working relationship in Haiti where the former acted as UN special envoy, and where Digicel has become the country’s largest foreign investor ever – pumping $600 million (€443 million) into an economy devastated by the 2010 earthquake.”(Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

  • Chelsea Clinton Thanked O’Brien For His “Tireless Leadership” In Haiti. CHELSEA CLINTON: “And again, I want to thank Denis O’Brien for his tireless leadership, as well as also getting Ruth Messenger a chair – proving indeed that chivalry is alive and well. Without his sort of dogged commitment, I don’t think we would have had the success rate that he is so rightly proud of and that we are so rightly grateful to be part of. So, I want to welcome Adam to the stage to help lead the conversation, but I also would ask all of you to please give Denis who is far too humble a round of applause.” (Chelsea Clinton, Remarks At The 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, New York, NY, 9/27/15)

In 2011 O’Brien Flew Bill Clinton To Ireland On His Private Jet So That Clinton Could Speak At The Global Irish Economic Forum. “In 2011, Mr Clinton flew to Ireland on Mr O’Brien’s private jet to attend the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle, which was hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

On The Same Trip, O’Brien Picked Up The Restaurant Tab For His “Mate” Clinton And 23 Others. “He has an honorary doctorate from UCD and is a mate of former US President, Bill Clinton. Indeed, he flew him to the recent Dublin Castle beano in his jet, and later paid the tab for a late-nighter in the Unicorn restaurant with Clinton, the strangely ever-present Séamus Heaney and 22 others.” (“Denis O’Brien: A Complicated Career And Dubious Ethics,” Village, 12/14/11)

President Clinton Named Denis O’Brien As A Clinton Global Citizen In 2012. “The Clinton Global Citizen Awards recognizes individuals from various sectors who demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing global challenges. Carlos Slim Helú, founder of Fundación Carlos Slim; Luis A. Moreno, president of Inter-American Development Bank; Denis O’Brien, chairman and founder of Digicel Group; Pepe Julian Onziema, programme director and advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre; and Katie Stagliano, founder and chief executive gardener of Katie’s Krops, will accept awards this year.”( Press Release, “President Clinton to Honor Six Recipients at the Sixth Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards,” The Clinton Foundation, 9/24/12)

In 2012, Clinton Rated O’Brien’s Ideas To Make Cash Transactions Available For The Poor Through Cell Phones As The Number One Idea Changing The World. “Former president Bill Clinton wrote in a September 2012 Time Magazine cover story that Irish businessman Denis O’Brien’s move to make cash transactions available for the poorest in the world via cell phones was the number one idea in changing the world. The Time cover story featuring Clinton holding a globe is entitled “5 Ideas that are changing the World” and O’Brien’s idea was rated tops.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien, Described As A Friend, Was The Main Facilitator And Benefactor For Clinton’s Speech At A 2013 Gathering For The One Percent Difference Campaign. “Bill Clinton’s third speaking engagement in Ireland in as many years was facilitated largely by his friend and fellow philanthropist Denis O’Brien. The billionaire chairman of the Digicel telecoms group helped to cover the cost of the visit along with a number of other private donors. Opening his speech, Mr. Clinton thanked Mr O’Brien personally ‘for the invitation.’” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s And Hosted A 2012 Dinner For Her While She Was Secretary Of State

According To A 2014 Interview, O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s. O’DOWD: “Speaking of politicians, you are a big fan of Hillary Clinton. Do you think she is going to run for the White House in 2016?” O’BRIEN: “I’d say she is going to see what the lay of the land is, like any clever politician, to see who’s there on the Democratic side. I think a year out from the primaries last time, not a lot of people had heard of Obama and never saw him as a serious candidate, so obviously she is waiting to see who’s there. And yes, I am a fan.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Exclusive: Denis O’Brien On Tony O’Reilly, Hillary, Ireland, And Making A Difference,” Irish Central, 9/27/14)

In 2012, O’Brien Hosted A Dinner For Hillary Clinton During Her Visit To Dublin. “There was lots of reminiscing the day before in Dublin too when about 12 of us old-time Hillary supporters sat with her in a Dublin restaurant at a dinner hosted by businessman Denis O’Brien. In the small private dinner setting just off Stephen’s Green in Dublin she made clear that the fire still burns. The affection for Ireland and the desire to serve again was very clear that night.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Hillary Clinton Book Recalls Role In Irish Peace Process,” Irish Central, 6/11/14)

O’Brien’s Company Received Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Post-Earthquake Haiti

In 2011, O’Brien’s Company Digicel Was Awarded a $2.5 Million Award From Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Haiti. “Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, who heads a mobile-phone network provider called Digicel, won a $2.5 million award in 2011 from a program run by the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development to offer mobile money services in post-earthquake Haiti. The firm won subsequent awards. Funds for the awards were provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while USAID administered the program, with a top Clinton aide directly overseeing earthquake aid.” (James V. Grimaldi, Rebecca Ballhaus, And Peter Nicholas, “Gifts To Hillary Clinton’s Family Charity Are Scrutinized In Wake Of Book,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/15)

O’BRIEN FACES CONTINUED INVESTIGATIONS INTO HIS QUID PRO QUO DEALINGS WITH IRISH POLITICIANS

An Irish Tribunal Determined That O’Brien Received Significant Aid From Michael Lowry, The Irish Communications Minister, In Obtaining A Valuable Telecom License

The Irish Moriarty Tribunal Concluded “Beyond Doubt” That O’Brien Had Received Substantial Help In Obtaining A Lucrative Mobile License From Then Communications Minister Michael Lowry. “The Moriarty tribunal’s second and final report has found that Michael Lowry assisted Denis O’Brien in his bid to secure a mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone. It concluded it is ‘beyond doubt’ that then minister for transport, energy and communications Mr Lowry gave ‘substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the [mobile] licence.’ It said Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien had at least two meetings during the bid process at which the former minister ‘imparted substantive information to Mr O’Brien of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence.’” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

O’Brien Transferred A Substantial Amount Of Money To Lowry And His Party Around The Time His Firm Was Seeking A Mobile License

O’Brien Gave Lowry’s Political Party A €50,000 Donation The Year The Contract Was Granted. “The minister was then a member of the Fine Gael party, which was also offered a donation amounting to €50,000 (£43,400) from O’Brien in the year the contract was granted. The-then prime minister, John Bruton, later sent the money back.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

  • The Moriarty Tribunal Found That The Payment Was Made “On Behalf Of Esat Digifone At The Instigation And Promotion Of Denis O’Brien.” “It said this payment was ‘made in a manner which, having regard to its false and misleading documentation, the initial payment to an offshore Jersey account, and the eventual delays and misrepresented form of transmission to Fine Gael, was secretive, utterly lacking in transparency and designed to conceal the fact of such payment by or on behalf of the donors.’ ‘The tribunal has found that the payment, although not one ever intended for Mr Lowry personally, was nonetheless one that technically falls within its terms of reference and was a payment to Fine Gael, on behalf of Esat Digifone at the instigation and promotion of Denis O’Brien.” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Concluded That O’Brien Transferred €150,000 To Lowry In Several Secret Transactions. “‘Clandestine’ money transactions took place between O’Brien and Lowry in return for the minister’s support, according to Mr. Justice Moriarty, the tribunal’s chairman. The report said that at one stage, while Lowry was communications minister, he received a sum amounting to €150,000 from O’Brien.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

Over The Course Of Four Years, O’Brien Would Provide An Additional £720,000 In Payments And Loan Support To Lowry. “Within four years of this first encounter, O’Brien had, the tribunal tells us, donated almost IR£1m in ‘clandestine circumstances’ to Lowry through loan support and payments. These came in three separate instalments; the first happened to occur less than seven weeks after the mobile phone licence had been granted. It included IR£147,000, Stg£300,000 and a ‘benefit equivalent to a payment’, in the form of loan support, of Stg£420,000.”(Elaine Byrne,“So Who’s Afraid Of Denis O’Brien? Enda Kenny Is,” Sunday Independent, 10/16/11)

O’Brien Tried To “Spoof” A Company Executive Into Releasing Funds For A Payment To Lowry That O’Brien Wanted To Make. “Some time afterwards Mr. O’Brien told Esat executive Barry Moloney that he’d tried to make a payment to Mr. Lowry but the payment had ‘got stuck’ with an intermediary. Mr. O’Brien later told his Esat colleagues that this was a spoof designed to get Mr. Moloney to release some funds Mr. O’Brien wanted released.” (Colm Keena, “Next Moriarty Report Focus On O’Brien, Lowry,” The Irish Times, 1/8/07)

O’Brien’s Company At The Time Was Seeking A Mobile Phone License, Which Was Later Sold Off To British Telecom. “At the time O’Brien’s Esat Digifone conglomerate was trying to gain a mobile phone licence which had been put out to public tender in 1995. O’Brien later sold that licence to British Telecom, netting his business hundreds of millions of euros.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Described O’Brien’s Transactions Were “Demonstrably Referable To The Acts And Conduct Of Mr. Lowry.” “The final Moriarty tribunal report was published in March 2011. It found Mr Lowry ‘secured the winning’ of the State’s second mobile phone licence competition for Mr O’Brien’s consortium, Esat Digifone. It also found Mr O’Brien made payments to, and supported a loan to, Mr Lowry and that the transactions were ‘demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr Lowry.’ The two men have said the tribunal was wrong in its findings.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Continues To Investigate O’Brien After Gathering “Further Material” Regarding His Telecom Bid

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Will Be Interviewing O’Brien Over The Moriarty Tribunal’s Findings After Gathering “Further Material” About The Matter. “The Criminal Assets Bureau will look to interview businessman Denis O’Brien about the findings of the Moriarty tribunal report after it has gathered further material, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. While a number of relevant witnesses have already been interviewed, an interview with Mr O’Brien has yet to take place but will be sought, according to the source.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

  • NOTE: The Criminal Assets Bureau Is “The Agency That Identifies Money Gained Through Serious Crime.” “Denis O’Brien, Ireland’s largest media owner, is being investigated by the country’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), the agency that identifies money gained through serious crime.” (Roy Greenslade, “Denis O’Brien Under Investigation By Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau,” The Guardian, 1/11/16)

O’BRIEN’S PURCHASE OF A DEBT-RIDDLED COMPANY COST IRISH TAXPAYERS €110 MILLION

In 2012, O’Brien Purchased A Company Whose Debt, Caused By “His Endless Buying And Selling Of Property” Was Partially Offset By Irish State Funds. “In 2012 O’Brien acquired for €45.4 million, Siteserv, a construction company that was buying up numerous other property companies during Ireland’s short lived economic boom. At the time of purchase, O’Brien owed IBRC, the state owned-bank, hundreds of millions of euros. Siteserv, like many companies who went bankrupt during this financial apocalypse in Ireland, pace 2008, were previously allowed to run riot on a never ending spending spree, supported by Anglo Irish Bank. By purchasing Siteserv, another company riddled with Anglo Irish Bank-fuelled debt, O’Brien was effectively buying from the state an asset riddled with debt–much of which he helped create through his endless buying and selling of property.(J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

“The Sale Of The Company To O’Brien Therefore Cost The Irish Taxpayer €110 Million.” “The sale of Siteserv to O’Brien also had another favorable condition: IBRC agreed to write off over €100million of Siteserv’s debt. And shareholders received €5million from the sale. The sale of the company to O’Brien therefore cost the Irish taxpayer €110 million.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

O’BRIEN ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS WHO CRITICIZE HIM

“O’Brien Has Previously Injuncted Or Initiated Defamation Proceedings 24 Times Against 42 Media Outlets.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

In 2016, O’Brien Sued The Irish Revenue Commissioners And Claimed They Breached His Privacy By Providing Details Of His Tax Liability To The Media. “Businessman Denis O’Brien is suing the Revenue Commissioners claiming they breached his privacy by providing details of his tax affairs to the media. He claims the alleged disclosure arose from a document Revenue provided to certain news organisations during a case arising out of his tax liability for 1999/2000 relating to the sale of his shares in Esat Telecom to BT Hawthorn Ltd. Revenue deny his claims and say almost all the information came from a public High Court hearing.” (“Denis O’brien Sues Revenue For Breach Of Privacy,” The Irish Times, 3/16/16)

In 2015, O’Brien Succeeded In Getting An Injunction Against Media Outlets Reporting On A Speech In The Irish Parliament That Criticized His Banking Arrangements. “As I wrote in May this year, most of Ireland’s media were silenced after O’Brien obtained a Dublin high court injunction against the country’s main broadcaster, RTÉ, in order to prevent it reporting a parliamentary speech. That injunction was eventually ‘clarified,’ which allowed the speech to be reported.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

O’Brien Sued The Parliamentary Committee That Cleared The MP Who Criticized Him For His Banking Arrangements. “The speech that upset O’Brien was made by Catherine Murphy TD, who raised questions over his banking arrangements. When she was cleared of having abused her parliamentary privilege by a Dáil committee, O’Brien then started legal action against the committee.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

  • The Irish Times: O’Brien’s “Case Is Ill-Judged And Dangerous, A Regrettable Move By A Wealthy Serial Litigator.” “That is also the clear purpose of the writers of the Constitution. Any other interpretation, however tempting to judges instinctively distrustful of the imperfection of political decision-making, will set the judiciary on a course of confrontation with parliament that it will rue, irrespective of the merits of Mr O’Brien’s cause. His case is ill-judged and dangerous, a regrettable move by a wealthy serial litigator. He should withdraw it.” (Editorial, “In Defence Of Privilege,” The Irish Times, 8/5/15)

 

  • O’Brien’s Injunction Was Branded As A “Constitutional Crisis.” “But numerous journalists and politicians branded this particular injunction as a constitutional crisis. The Irish Constitution allows for all statements that are made in its national parliament to be protected by parliamentary privilege. By gagging his critics, O’Brien was potentially creating a precedent in Ireland where a private individual was dictating what could and could not be reported from the national parliament to the press.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

 

“In August, He Threatened To Sue A Satirical Website, Waterford Whispers, For Running A Spoof Item About O’Brien. The Post Was Duly Taken Down.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2013, O’Brien Won A Defamation Claim Against A Paper That Covered His Earthquake Relief Efforts. “In February 2013, he won €150,000 damages in a successful defamation claim against the Irish Daily Mail over an article published in 2010 about O’Brien’s Haiti earthquake relief efforts. The Mail’s solicitor said after the verdict that it was a sad day for freedom of expression in Ireland.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2012, Transparency International Voiced Concerns About O’Brien’s Legal Actions Against Journalists. “In November 2012, an organisation called Transparency International Ireland voiced concerns to the United Nations over the number of O’Brien’s legal actions. It cited figures compiled by the National Union of Journalists that listed actions, or threats of actions, against 17 journalists and media groups by O’Brien since 1998. Among the most high profile were those against some of Ireland’s best-known commentators, such as Vincent Browne, Sam Smyth and Elaine Byrne. TI Ireland’s chief executive John Devitt said at the time: ‘The use of litigation and legal threats denies journalists and editors the human right to freely report and comment on matters of public importance.’ ‘Journalists also have a duty to report or comment on issues in the public interest – even if they have a negative impact on Mr O’Brien’s reputation.’” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

Notes on Labour, Mairia Cahill and Catherine Mc Cartney’s statement.

Earlier this afternoon Catherine Mc Cartney released a statement regarding the Labour Party’s plans to hand Mairia Cahill a seat in the Irish Senate. Ive posted both press release and fuller statement at the bottom.  Catherine’s brother Robert McCartney was murdered by members of the IRA in 2005 in Belfast and she has campaigned since for justice for her own family, as well as other victims of paramilitary and state violence.

catherine mc carthey, Mairia Cahill, Labour, Senate

In the statement posted below Catherine Mc Cartney makes it clear she sees the appointment of Mairia Cahill is an abuse of the Oireachtas by the Labour Party. “Without explanation, the appointment appears to be made solely for political purposes.” Cahills appointment by Labour to the Seanad is seen as bizarre choice to make.

Catherine Mc Cartney herself has been deeply critical of Sinn Fein following her brothers murder, its attempted cover up and related intimidation by republicans. When Sinn Fein signed up to the new policing board – and in effect supported the families demand for those who murdered Robert Mc Carthy to be held to account through the courts – some local republicans left the party and joined the ‘dissident republican’ milieu. The statement references that Mairia Cahill left Sinn Fein at this point over its change in policing and joined the Republican Unity Network (RNU), acting as National Secretary. Cahill rejects that she left Sinn Fein over their stance in policing.  And also says she was National Secretary for RNU for “a couple of hours”.   Which to most people familiar with political organising seems a pretty strange set up.

What’s even stranger to many people is how and why the Labour Party decided to appoint Cahill to run in the Seanad by election.  Its an election that only TD’s and Senators can vote it, and will need the support of Labour bosses in government Fine Gael.  Labour explanation so far has been all motherhood and apple pie (pro Good Friday Agreement, committed to peace and democracy and the rule of law) with zero specifics.

There is no doubt that Mairia Cahill has clear demands for justice.  It in no way minimises or trivialised the specifics of that to say she is one of thousands of people and hundreds of families seeking the same.  History suggests that a seat in the Irish Senate will do little to transform the work of those on the ground campaigning. But what does that actually look like?

Current negotiations in the north are struggling to find a genuine truth discovery framework. Families of victims want a format with the necessary financial and social resources. One aimed at uncovering truths regardless of how unpalatable they are. It would include the failings of paramilitary policing and the cover ups of abuse.

What’s much more contentious is an honest examination of the role of ‘legitimate authority’, ie nations states. This demands total transparency around the role of the British state in arming and running paramilitary organisations who murdered hundreds of people, including neighbours in my village. It requires talking about how the British intelligence community used knowledge of sexual violence, abuse of children or simply personal experiences to blackmail people into becoming informers. It also means taking on board that collusion happened in the south as well.

These things might be described as ‘explosive’ within news headlines, perhaps understandably. But on another level it speaks to a mundane reality that ‘legitimate authority’ is often based upon the most illegitimate and unjustified actions of state power. Understanding this asks us to  unlearn assumed facts of terrorist monsters and decent governments. Its demands challenging the deep and widespread public ignorance on this side of the border.  We don’t stop reproducing fucked up situations without we make a conscious effort to understand how not to. Or more specifically,  We dont get to to stop those with the will to happily reproduce inequality and injustice without public conversation how it actually happens, not how we are told it happens.

It was only since moving to Dublin 15 years ago that I realised the ritual regularity with which the three main parties of the Dail use the pain and suffering of people north of the border to score points. Whereas in a sensitive, emotional mature democracy, one would hope that the realities and mechanics of a war could create learning and empowered knowledge that is ultimately beneficial to us all.

Instead, what is possible is negated by what is politically expedient. Where truths could be explored and shared humanely and intelligently, rather other peoples experiences and pain are fodder in the pantomime of party political power.

This selective dissonance played out again last week with the visit of Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Michael Dywer was a Irish security guard-turned-mercenary, murdered in Bolivia in 2009. His family demand and obviously deserve a full account around the circumstances of his death. Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan ‘supported’ family calls for an international investigation. Yet the Irish state isn’t really interested.

Any rigorous international investigation into Michael Dwyer’s death has to look at the series of events that led to him being shot to death in a hotel room in Santa Cruz. It is inevitable it would explore how and why right wing paramilitaries from Eastern Europe linked up with former Irish Rangers security companies. It has to look at how armed mercenaries were recruiting young Irish security guards involved in pushing through a Shell gas pipeline a remote west Mayo.

Such facts is already in the public domain, due in large part to the research work by people involved in resisting Shells pipeline. Is it ironic that those who felt the physical effects of policing in Rossport would be more curious about how Michael Dywer died than the Irish state or the private security firm he worked for? Or is it reflective of something else?

To date no Irish government has taken any steps to investigate what is already know and what remains unknown around the Irish aspects leading to Michael Dwyer’s murder. Enda Kenny might make shit up about armies and ATMs but you can rest assured he has no interest in actually uncovering the unpalatable truths of the murder of a young Tipperary man. Not when its leads back to his own doorstep in Mayo.

And other Irish families of murder victims demand justice from a state that is unwilling to cooperate.

It is this context that Catherine Mc Cartney’s statement is worthy of wider public acknowledgement. The appointment of Mairia Cahill to run occurs in a specific context. This includes the maneuverings of electoralism in the Dail.  When we exclude the neoliberal cannibalism within the Labour party, Sinn Fein are Labours biggest existential threat.

Labour appointments isnt just cynical in that it’s a transparent move against Sinn Fein. It is deeply inauthentic in relation to survivors of abuse and those campaigning for  a meaning framework for justice and truth in the north. I can stake no possible claim of understanding the specifics of Mairia Cahills decision to run as a Labour Senator.  And its pretty understandable why she wants to land punches on Sinn Fein.

Though if feels and looks like Labours play here actually results in creating hierarchies of victims around the ‘troubles.’ This is precisely what is important about the perspective Catherine Mc Cartney bring in her statement.

She says

It is vital for victims’ families, fighting for truth and justice to be entitled to work with elected representatives who should operate from a position of integrity and independence

Cahills appointment to the Seanad.

leave(s) us isolated from those political parties who support this nomination”

In a statement to all sitting TD’s and Senators she expanded on this point.

I fail to understand how a family like our own can ask political parties to hold SF to account regarding matters of truth and justice, (issues which remain at the forefront of  peace process) whilst at the same time those parties ask no questions of Ms Cahill, and provide no answers to the public.

Its up to Labour to disprove the widely held belief that the appointment is really poorly thought out opportunism. Yet that itself wouldnt rescue it from a fairly simple truth. The main political parties in the south, and Labour in this instance hold up the grimness of war, and the very often brutal experiences of our fellow humans on this island, as tokens and faux currency for their own small minded games.

——–

Catherine Mc Cartney Press Release


I have stayed silent up to now about my disgust regarding the nomination of Mairia Cahill to the Seanad because of outstanding civil proceedings I am taking against her”.

Reservations I have surround her alleged senior position in RNU (the political wing of the terrorist organisation,Og na hEireann) which, it appears, was as recent as 2011. I have today written to Oireachtas members outlining my concerns.

It is vital for victims’ families, fighting for truth and justice to be entitled to work with elected representatives who should operate from a position of integrity and independence”.

I am asking the Labour Party and Ms Cahill to provide a credible explanation regarding emerging revelations of her involvement with RNU and to do so before the Seanad election.

Without an explanation, the appointment appears to be made solely for political purposes. This undermines the campaigning work of victims’ families, from all backgrounds who campaign for Justice for their loved ones.

I am calling on Joan Burton and the Labour Party to reflect on their decision to nominate Ms Cahill to the Seanad position”.

ENDS

 

 

Date: 09/11/2015

 

Dear Senators and Deputies,

I am writing to express my concern of, and my objection to Ms Cahill’s nomination to the Seanad. This is on the grounds of her involvement in the dissident group RNU, as highlighted by Mr Beades and others over the weekend.  Furthermore, the outright refusal of the Labour Party to provide a comprehensive explanation in relation to this matter only adds injury to families such as my own.

As you will be aware my brother, Robert, was murdered by the IRA and Sinn Fein members in 2005, and in the aftermath the IRA embarked on a cover up, which rendered any prospect of justice impossible.  A key and essential factor in our campaign was pressuring republicans to cooperate with the PSNI and due to this stance my family suffered greatly.

  • A picket held outside my brother’s house (causing my 4year old nephew to vomit

with anxiety)

  • Robert’s friend was badly beaten

  • We were issued with death threats

  • My sister and brother’s fiancé (and two children had to leave the area)

  • We were vilified and condemned

  • Our lives were completely transformed due to his murder and our campaign.

This did not deter us in our quest for justice however; a quest we continue to this day.  When SF did sign up to policing some of those involved in Robert’s murder moved to the dissident groups in protest.

If the revelations regarding Ms Cahill are accurate, then she also moved to the dissidents in opposition to SF’s shift on policing.  It has been cited in the press that Ms Cahill was the National Secretary of RNU from 2010-2011, a very senior position. This cannot be regarded as a minor issue or an irrelevance to the appointment to a political office.

I would also like it noted that Ms Cahill did not inform me of her involvement in RNU when I brought her into my home in 2011. On the contrary, she claimed not to be involved and to be in fear of them. It now appears that at this time she was National Secretary.

Ms Cahill’s nomination to the Seanad, in the absence of any full explanation for her involvement in a group which was actively discouraging people to engage with the police, is unacceptable and a gross undermining of victims of the IRA and dissident republicans.  I fail to understand how a family like our own can ask political parties to hold SF to account regarding matters of truth and justice, (issues which remain at the forefront of  peace process) whilst at the same time those parties ask no questions of Ms Cahill, and provide no answers to the public.

I have been silent on the issues surrounding Ms Cahill’s case. This is due to civil proceedings in process regarding a harassment case I have taken against Ms Cahill.

In 2011 I invited Ms Cahill into my home, because I believed her to be a woman facing a similar experience to our own (i.e. coming up against the Provos).  I supported her as a woman, a feminist and a justice campaigner.  I did not allow her previous involvement in SF to cloud my judgement of her experience or need.

I am now aware that I was not given the full facts and circumstances of Ms Cahill’s position and activities.  I have decided to write this letter because I believe the same now applies to the public, who deserve better from democratic politicians. Also, I believe that as a family seeking justice this appointment will leave us isolated from those political parties who support this nomination (without providing a full explanation acceptable to victims of the IRA and dissidents). The duplicity inherent in the lack of transparency and honesty relating to Ms Cahill’s role would make it difficult for me to engage on basis of integrity and independence.

I will leave it to your judgement regarding her suitability in the light of the revelations, but would ask that you demand a full and comprehensive explanation to be provided and published. This would be with a view to protecting the integrity of victims of republican violence, past and present.

I feel I must mention one more thing. In a message to me, Mairia Cahill claims to have recorded me without my knowledge and expressly infers that she will use this material to damage me in some way.  It is my view, and I’m sure the public would agree, that this behaviour is not befitting of a member of the Seanad and should also be addressed.

I would hope that you receive this on the basis upon which it is sent- a genuine and proven concern for matters relating to the rule of law, justice and truth.

Yours respectfully,

Catherine McCartney (sister of Robert McCartney)

5 Reasons Why Denis O’Brien Is Doing Us A Favour.

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UPDATE: This piece was written in response to earlier threats by O Brien to sue the Dail. Now he is threatening to sue the satirical website Waterford Whispers, for a satirical article. The article is no longer on their website, but you can find a link at the bottom of this post.

Image by Eamonn Crudden

Image by Eamonn Crudden

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Denis O’Brien’s ability to scare Irish media from commenting on the specifics of relationship he has with state owned banks is a “threat to democracy.”

TD’s of all shades are claiming a “constitutional threat”, because Irish mainstream media refuses to report on the factual content of a statement read into the Dail by TD Catherine Murphy last week. And I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view.

But such utterances are founded upon the idea that we live in a functioning democracy. We don’t. We like in a technocratic representative democracy. Hired Knave has down a brilliant job of tackling this last week here

However it is worth looking over the terrain of conflict around Denis O’Brien trying to shut down public conversation about his 1.25% interest deal with IBRC.

Rarely do we ordinary plebs get to see the rich individual dinosaurs of inequality battle it out with institutions of the state and cultural power. O’Brien seeking to challenge TD’s speech and reporting is a ‘big story.’ But its also a familiar story across the globe were the concentration of media ownership allows rich and powerful people veneers of respectability as they go about the business of exploiting ever more people.

But there are much more interesting stories within that story.

We – those of us likely to spend the rest of our lives on the flip side of that inequality, those of us living with precarity – shouldn’t be simply be looking on as passive observers.

Before Denis O’Brien next hops on his private jet – to stay out of the country long enough to avoid paying taxes like the rest of us – perhaps it worth flagging a few reasons why we he might be doing us all a wee favour.

1 He provides us with a perfect example of how screwed mainstream media actually is.

Denis O Brien RTE

Luckily for the plucky and otherwise brave and fearless media institutions like RTE, The Irish Times and The Sunday Business Post, a judge has ruled today that those organisations wouldn’t be breaking an injunction granted to O’Brien last week. Independent News and Media played no part in the court proceeding because they are of course owned by the tax exile trying to do the gagging.

This is being lauded as a win for common sense, but in essence the judges ruling shows that fear of litigation held by large media organisations in Ireland trumped the simple act of transcribing or rebroadcasting protected speech from a left wing TD. Its a pyrrhic victory at best for the institutions themselves.

The ideology of bureaucratic risk managerialism is a poisonous one simply because it bleaches (individual and collective) values, ethics and moral into the amoral language of cost-benefit pragmatism. This cultural practice is now so deeply embedded in most institutions of state, media and professional political organisations that its impulse is followed through even though it results in de-legitimising the same organisations. That observation remains regardless or whether you think that de-legitimising is a good or bad thing. It is probably obvious I think its a good thing.

There is little difference in the calculus of the Irish Times, RTE et al deciding to not covering Murphys statement and the decision by Fianna Fail TD’s to not canvass for a ‘Yes’ vote in the marriage equality referendum. Both relied on a cost-benefit analysis devoid of ethical dimensions or of the demands of cursory social justice. Both have been found – in the eyes of an increasingly politicised public – to have made the wrong call.

I’m empathic to the precarious nature of journalism and some of the existential threats to business models. I get that people need to pay bills and have some sense of job security. We all need that. But most of us don’t. This isnt an accident. This is how late capitalism works. Media workers are in the same boat as the rest of us.


There is no doubt that journalism is a necessity in assisting wider publics to understand how society works, why inequality is growing and how it is that specific interests in Ireland have captured specific state decision making for their own benefits. And there is no doubt that those vested interests with fight with everything at their disposal to maintain their status quo.


But if journalists themselves dont or cant start to find ways of breaking out of the ideology of bureaucratic risk managerialism, or at least speaking out about the limitations of the job itself in speaking truth to power, there is little reason why the public will continue to support and pay for the product that Irish journalism produces.

Media organisations may feel that changing business models and consumption patterns and advertsing revenues posed a form of existential threat. I’d posit that a far greater threat in the longer term is the disillusionment of wide swathes of society because Irish media organisations bend the knee much more than they land punches.

Enforcing silence is perhaps the most corrosive structural element in reproducing injustice. The history of this state is littered with the consequences of institutions being able to keep things quietly to protect themselves against the organised hurt they carried out. It has only ever been the sustained struggles by people affected that ultimately break the silence. What we need most from journalism – be that lay or professional journalism – is a much more militant approach to transparency and accountability. Tackling enforced silence mean embracing enforced transparency. Tackling the illegitimate and unjust forces of power shown by O’Brien means embracing tactics and strategies of storytelling and truth telling based on bravery rather than fear.

2 He reminds us how important social media is to popular political education and informed publics

download

Last week I was working out in Slane for the set up of the gig on Saturday. By Friday everyone I spoke to knew that Denis O Brien managed to stop most media from reporting Murphy statement from the Dail. Many knew the specifics of his 1.25% interest deal with IBRC. Think about that. This wasn’t a newsroom, or a meeting of political activists. This was a temporary workplace made up mostly of people in precarious work, in a field in Meath without a TV or newspaper in sight. Social media and communication technology, used by ordinary people to find out what was going on, bypassed high court injunctions and mainstream media stalling.

It is without doubt that these networks, many or which have emerged during Irish Water mobilisations, have become channels of information sharing and political discourse that are shaping political literacy in our wider population. These networks eschew ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity’ in favour of being tools of active narrative making. They have fluid boundaries that make the distinction between online and offline increasingly obsolete.

I made a point of checking the YouTube of Catherine Murphy statement in to Dail as news broke on Twitter or todays ruling. The video had been watched over 34,000 times. In the metric of YouTube hits that might not seem massive. But no one likely watched that video and didn’t chat to someone about it. Its was a conversation primer. Id hazard a guess that few watched it a didn’t figure out even if this was all legal, it was also a stitch-up.

Likewise Twitter and Facebook was alight with #redacted as people crowd sourced previous attempts by O’Brien to censor media. They shared screen grabs of the Moriarty reports showing O’Brien payments to bent politician FG Michael Lowry. Others created meme’s and visual images taking the piss out of O’Brien and media organisations. Some where humorous, some where angry, some kind of daft, many, many deeply on point.

Broadsheet.ie deserve a special mention. They in particular have been head and shoulders above all on the Irish media landscape in not being afraid to bust the respect for authority on this issue (and others like police corruption.)

Waterford Whispers used satire to rip the shite out of O’Brien and compliant media organisations. Their “Maltese Tax Exile Briefs Government On What To Say Next” was shared over 11,000 times

And of course left wing social media groups and organisations tooks no pause in sharing out the details of Murphys statement. One Visual image shared out by SolidarityTimes have been viewed over 35,000 times.

Personal blogs posts offering an analysis on O’Brien versus media have also been getting very high hits. In very brief chats with Hired Knave and Oireachtas Retort before posting this both described how their O’Brien related posts were going through the roof even though they spend little time promoting them. Again the networks of local community anti water tax groups acted as a conduits for sharing, liking, reading and discussion.


All these totally circumscribed O’Briens legal threats and used diverse language and literary forms to articulate a deep frustration with how power works in this state. Social media and communication technology clearly allows us to create our own analysis, much of it geared to a radical analysis that desires real social transformation. And by radical I mean going to the roots of issues, not just the veneer of a 24hr news cycle.

From the perspective of struggles against structural imposition of inequality – of which O’Brien’s matters are but one specific symptom and reproducing cause – what we are seeing here relates very much to Gramsci’s ‘war of position.’ The idea that a central component (and indeed strategy) of pro-democracy/equality social movements is the challenging of common sense by remaking common sense itself.

In the specifics of this case it means challenging the common sense presented by O’Brien and his team of the green jersey wearing hard working man fighting for his privacy as well as the common sense that present day mainstream media institutions are harbringers of as-yet unfullfilled democratic possibilities.

This proffering of analysis by citizen journalists or innately curious human beings motivated by social justice, or blogging punters – call them/us what you will – offers a much more rich and nuance tapestry of democratic expression that you will find in any mainstream media organisations products. Laden not just with critique, readers know that at the core of this lies other possibilities that the present set up actually negates. We are making relationships of understanding between our own existences and the reality of macro economics and micro corruptions.  This of course will not bring about change itself.

What O’Brien has helped us do – as with Irish Water and years of austerity – is help us find each other. Communication technology is not a panacea for the ills of late capitalism, but it can and does provide both tools and public space for deliberation, education and community/movement building essential for challenging social systems that enable the continuing growth of massive inequality and illegitimate power.

Which perhaps brings me nicely to this next point we could thank O’Brien for.

3 He reminds us that censorship is something the Labour party are pushing in government.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

The Irish government is a fan of censorship as I outlined a few weeks back. If the proposed censorship bills by the Labour Party pass, you could be taken to court for sharing this post with your friends across your social media networks if Denis O Brien was offended by it.

The present bills allow for people – particularly the rich and litigious type we know so well – to shut up people blogging, tweeting and sharing updates, articles and analysis that they merely find offensive.

In this respect I predict that tomorrow ventures by Joan Burton’s PR team to engage the population with the #TalkToJoan hashtag will be used by right wing Labour members to illustrate once again that ordinary people voicing anger at state policies are a dangerous rabble.

4 He reminds us that controlling communication is what Denis O’Brien does.

depiction-of-me-as-enemy-of-journalism-undeserved

Curtailing peoples capacity to communicate might seem like an odd thing for a man so heavily involved in telecommunications. At first glance it seems counter-intuitive. Surely he wants people to talk is he is in the telecommunications business?

Well not really.

In reality Denis O’Brien isn’t interested in enabling communication between people. He is interested in controlling the means of communication in order to maximise the benefit for himself and the companies he owns. If peoples communication damages those benefits then Denis will quite happily stuff gagging orders down their throats. It is the archetypical approach of media megalomaniacs.

And I use the term benefits rather than profits deliberately. Profits are a particular type of benefit, but they are not the only one. Today O’Brien got a full page spread to state his case that hes is being demonised. Yet not one of us called ‘facists’ or ‘nazi’s under Dail privilege has gotten a full page spread in the IT to refute such exaggerated and disgusting slurs.

I was on the Marian Finucane show at the start of February trying to make that exact point via phone. In the studio Thomas Molloy, Group Business Editor of O’Briens IMN tried to argue that O Brien exercised no control over his papers employed journalists .

There’s no polite way of putting this. Molloy is either a liar or is Group Business Editor for the state largest media organisation with little cognisance of what actually goes on under the bonnet of IMN. O’Brien specifically intervened to try and get Sam Smyth kicked off the Independents coverage of Moriarty tribunal as Smyth was making O’Brien look back by printing the facts. Those facts being O’Brien paid cash to a Michael Lowry.

Of course Molloy didn’t like the temerity of a wee bollix like me calling out O’Brien on the day his own front page called anti water tax protests an “attack on democracy” He refused couldn’t bring his plummy voiced self to address me by name, instead calling me one of “these people.” I had very little to do to show the contempt Molloy holds for most folks outside his golden circle. You know, people actually pushing for social justice and democracy.

O’Brien has a long history of shutting down free speech that challenges his world view. And like most media owners he has a long history of using his media companies to present an analysis of the world that suits himself. That’s want most for profit owners do.

Ireland censorship

Denis makes it clear INM previous owners used the paper against him

He even made this point himself the last time the Irish Times gave over a page or two to decry how he was being demonised back in 2011. He describes how the previous owner O’Reilly used the paper to attack O’Brien as O’Brien was engaged in a slow hostile takeover of the organisation. He made no bones about the fact that the paper was a tool for O’Reilly. Yet Molloy now asks us to believe that O Brien doesnt so same as previous owners.

O’Brien goes out of his way to play the “im wearing the green jersey” and did it again in today Irish Times. One has to wonder is it now fierce warm to be wearing that in Malta.

5 O’Brien reminds us to follow the money.

follow-the-money_31648

O’Brien says in todays Irish Times he is a republican with a small ‘r.’ He might as well say he is an anarchist with a small ‘a’ or a socialist with a small ‘s’. He is in fact a capitalist with a capital ‘C’ without the courage and honesty to say so.

Ireland is a corrupt bought and sold state, with its officials and owners in permanent denial that our society is run a functionary of late capitalism, specifically beholden to financial capitalism. Many will complain that the present banking inquiry is futile, no one will go to jail and everyone is escaping scott free.

But that misses the point. Sure, the banking inquiry is set up to fail if we see success as a pair of handcuff on smug rich men. However there is no smoking guns. There is no bad guys sitting stroking cats and planning our future precarity. There is just patterns of behaviours, relationships based in shared ideology and lots and lots of money if you are willing to forgo a pretence that democracy and equality actually matters to you. Ireland is the country were if you want to get along the most important talent to have is low cunning. Its all in the game..

There is just the mundane reality of people like of O’Brien telling his mates in the banks what interest he’s willing to pay for cheap deals. Mundane facts of Enda Kenny meeting with O’Brien in the Shelbourne to plan out what moves their vision of society now needs. The mundane reality of vulture capitalists buying low when blood is on the streets. The mundane stupidity of papers like the Sunday Business Post getting hard ons for ideas like  infinite growth on a planet of finite resources.

Just the mundane reality of silent circles still craving to hold on to power and wealth and decision making. The mundane rituals of respect for respectability. Just the mundane reality of identikit professional politicians within the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael devoid of any type of social vision beyond that proffered in quiet meetings.

Just the mundane world view held by the deeply ideological civil service in the permanent state always looking forward to the next asset stripping so they so can magic up a revolving door they can jump through. Just the mundane reality of big Irish lawyer firms ready to rubber stamp the money flows laundered through our state by multinationals running a global network of legal criminality.

Just mundane facts of men in suits, well educated in legalese and accountancy trickery and PR spin and high frequency trading and shelf companies and tax avoidance and promissory notes and interest rates and asset stripping and all the other mundane obtuse realities far too complex for people like us to understand.

Far too dangerous for people like us to be involved with.

Far too important for people like me and you to be part of actual democratic discussion and deliberation.

Except that we were and are talking about it when mainstream media was silenced and cowed.

We did speak about it in a field in Meath while setting up a gig were people would get drunk and dance in the pissing rain. We pulled it apart online and in pubs and around dinner tables as we crowd sourced and commented. Shrill voices from professional politicians called this an attack on democracy, and engaged in shadow puppetry debate, ever careful to not talk about the actual facts.

e did.

And we will continue to do so.

And more question arises for us all.

How do we best use these tools at our disposal?

What would a culture of enforced transparency look like? And how could it be used to removed silence and ignorance. To shine lights on aspects of the captured state?

Should we be hacking more, should be be setting up platforms for leaking more? Should a radical-tech community (does one exist?) be reaching out to journalists?

Any as I post this more question come to mind. Why was it that the ‘Anglo tapes’ were leaked to INM via Paul Williams who in effect is a Garda spokesperson. He clearly is not an investigative journalist. Perhaps that was the point? I dunno.

More questions arise as I write but for today perhaps we have a little to be thankful to O Brien for. Because it gives us all pause to think about questions of how the people living in this state will never live lives as equals while such unjust powers and scare tactics are seen as legitimate and part of democracy.

Heres that link to the Waterford Whispers piece

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s294/sh/872934e0-826b-466f-957b-d2c93c2fff5b/70f392ca9add949a72e05c0fd2b4167c

8 Reasons Why We Need To Stop These Labour Censorship Laws

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Last week Labour politicians presented two separate bills aimed at shutting down online public conversation. Unelected Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins posted the “Harmful And Malicious Electronic Communications Bill 2015.” Pat Rabbitte published “The Public Electronic Communications Networks (Improper Use) Act 2015” on the same day.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

Both can be read in full at the bottom of this post.

Why two separate censorship bills were brought forward by the same political organisation has not been made clear. A cursory reading of both show that not only are they dangerously wide open for interpretation, but that they both seek to make it a crime to cause any offence to powerful interests and politicians.

1 These proposed laws are Orwellian in nature. They seek to make causing “offence”, “annoyance” “inconvenience” and “alarm” an offence punishable by fines and imprisonment.

From Higgins’ bill —-

For the purposes of this section an electronic communication shall be considered malicious where it intentionally or recklessly causes alarm, distress or harm to the other…

..A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.”

From Rabbitte’s Bill

A person who (b) for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another—

(i) sends or causes to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that the sender knows to be false,

(ii) persistently and without reasonable cause makes use of a public electronic communications network, is guilty of an offence.

Pretty alarming and offensive right? These bills enable the squashing of public discussion and dissent. They provide for the legal regulation of online political speech. In a society that already has draconian libel laws to protect the powerful from written or spoken criticism, this is a clear attack on our already delimited democratic sphere.

It gives politicians the ability to censor all online public criticism which might cause them “alarm” “annoyance” or “inconvenience”. Higgins’ bill allows for fines up to €5,000 and prison sentences of 12 months. Not to be outdone Pat Rabbittes proposed law seeks to have fines up to €75,000 and 5 years imprisonment.

The level of punishment sought by the Labour party can only have a chilling effect on many people using social media to engage in public debate. The only possible outcome, if these bills are passed into law, is an increase in the totalitarian potential of the nation state.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

2 They want to take away your communication tools too.

Even the wide ranging vagueness of offense and alarm isn’t enough. Say you are found not guilty after being dragged through the courts on foot of the new offenses they laws would create. It has been declared that have done nothing illegal. Yet still you aren’t free to express and communicate without interference from the state and criminal justice system. Under Ancillary Orders of Higgins’ bill, people can be forced by the courts to remove their own content even though you are not guilty of anything….

Ancillary Orders

5. – (1) If on the evidence the court is not satisfied that the person should be convicted of an offence under sections (3) or (4), the court may nevertheless make any of the following upon application to it in that behalf if, having regard to the evidence, the court is satisfied that it is in the interest of justice so to order:

(a) that the person remove or delete specific electronic communication(s);(b) that the person shares an apology or correction as the court deems appropriate in the circumstances;(c) that the person shall not, for such period as the court may specify, communicate by any means with the other person or that the person shall not approach within such distance as the court shall specify of the place of residence or employment of the other person.

It gets worse. Pat Rabbitte’s bill allows the state to seize laptops, mobiles phones and modems etc etc to be taken from you.

So imagine you send a tweet sugggesting Pat Rabbitte was a bit of a hypocrite condemning political organisations with links to paramilitaries who murdered people, given his own political history. Granted that might be hard to fit into 140 characters, but imagine it was possible for the sake of an example. And say Pat Rabbitte was a litigious sort of character who didn’t want to be publicly associated with any of the murders, bank robberies or lots of stuff the Official IRA was involved in when he was member of the Workers Party, the political wing of the OIRA.

I guess you’d be into a couple of tweets now, something that might be construed by Rabbitte and his expensive legal team and barristers as “persistent and without legitimate cause”. It probably might not matter that you feel it important to public discourse that many younger people ought know that that a former minister – responsible for promoting austerity and a gagging law – was once a member of a politico-paramilitary organisation that murdered people. You might even infer that the Stalinist tendencies embodied in WP/OIRA back in the day could be found in a bill that seeks to quash public online political dissent today by actually making it illegal to be a political nuisance.

So you are taken to court and found guilty. Say your day job was a graphic designer, or architect or any other job that requires a laptop and/or mobile phone and access to the net. Your ability to earn a wage (or get donations) relies on these things. Rabbitte’s bill allows for a judge to remove that wage earning ability by seizing the tools of your trade. See:

(6) On convicting a person for an offence under subsection (1), the court may, in addition to any other penalty imposed for the offence, order any apparatus, equipment or other thing used in the course of committing the offence to be forfeited to the State.”

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

3 This is bigger than these two bills. This is about what type of society we want and how we can get there.

These bills are merely the latest manifestation of senior politicians seeking to criminalise public questioning. For the past few years there has been a continual attempt by politicians to shut down public anger, despair and frustration. Especially when that coaleses into social action. This anger, expressed on the streets as well as on social media – is rooted firmly in the inability and unwillingness of current political actors to tackle the causes of inequality and face up to the failure of representative democracy. Instead of taking note of these voices from below, people are called fascists and nazi’s by the very people imposing inequality upon them. 

It is demanded that people play nice, suppress their emotions, individualise and internalise their own insecurities. We are expected to respect respectability and applaud green shoots of arithmetical recovery. We all know that these green shoots will never feed us properly, will not undo the loss of mass emigration and suicides. These green shoots and smoke-and -mirror GDP figures wont let us escape shitty short terms jobs or a pension-less future. On the one hand our politicians applaud our ‘sacrifices’, but on the other they are telling us to shut the fuck up. And that is precisely what this bill will be used for.

4 Far bigger communication crime are happening today and the Labour Party are part of the problem.

“ I was aware there was a gap in our legislative armour and I was keen to cover this because I feel a duty as an Oireachtas member.  Modern democracies require modern laws and why should Ireland be any different in terms of international best practice?” –Lorraine Higgins at the bill launch.

Isnt that what you tend to do during an election?” Pat Rabbitte’s response to accusations of lying to the public in run up to last election.

Lorraine Higgins has ran in 8 elections and been rejected every time, yet she’s able to push forward this bill, because she was appointed to the Senate. Higgins likes to talk about her ‘constituency’ in Galway but was never voted into the Dail. In a clip seen tens of thousands of times on YouTube, Pat Rabbitte made clear that lying is part of modern day electoral strategy.

This is Ireland’s “modern democracy.” But what does a modern democracy even mean?

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

Modern in the sense that all our electronic communications, every phone call, email, our browsing histories, each Facebook update and Twitter direct message, all our location-tracking data, menstrual cycle app info and Snapchat sexy shots, etc. etc. etc. are intercepted, filed and stored by the UK intelligence agencies at GCHQ and shared with the US intelligence gatherers of the NSA?

Modern in the sense that none of the main political parties felt the call of duty to speak out about this, never mind publicly condemn other states for abusing the privacy of its own population? From this alone it is completely reasonable to assume that Higgins, Rabbitte and the majority of political organisations in this state don’t give one flying bollix about what modern democracies actually means for the most of the population. They are the managers of our total surveillance. These censorship bills are yet another expression of nation state surveillance and control that we can see growing across the globe. Across the EU we are seeing laws to criminalise online organising, and political protest. All the while agencies of the US and UK are supported by client regimes to achieve total surveillance of global populations.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

5 New Laws, Old Practices

These proposed laws reflect the deeply reactionary and authoritarian nature of the Irish state its relatively closed political classes. As much as we can all see many positive social changes in attitudes and practices – which are exclusively rooted in peoples collective struggles rather than benign political leadership – the Irish state remains instinctively reactionary and under the control of wealthy vested interests. Since the inception of the state, successive governments and powerful elites have used censorship around political speech, free discussion and free assembly and the sharing of knowledge.

Ireland is one of the few *ahem* modern democracies to retain blasphemy laws. This was conveniently omitted from most of the commentary surrounding politicians leveraging the murders in Paris earlier this year to laud themselves supporters of ‘free speech’.

During the financial crisis, new censorship laws within “The Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010” were used to hide decisions from public view around bank restructuring. Section 60 of the act made it illegal to disclose what decisions the Finance Minister ordered, but also made it illegal to report that Section 60 was being invoked. In effect this was a super injunction stopping journalists reporting on the fact that they were not allowed to report. Brian Lenihan used this act to block reporting on €3,700,000,000 of our taxes being handed over to Allied Irish Bank in mid December 2010.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

As well as refusing women reproductive control over their own bodies, Ireland still bans the sharing of knowledge about abortion. As things stands a doctor can give advice on abortion if a woman seeks an abortion outside of Ireland, but we cant legally tell each other arsing from “Article 26 and the Regulation of Information (Services outside the State for the Termination of Pregnancies) Bill 1995, In Re [1995] IESC 9; [1995] 1 IR 1 (12th May, 1995).” This censorship of course is very difficult to police but the intention is more about shutting down the free sharing of essential and important information than locking people up. In our modern democracy is just not politically possible to lock woman up like this anymore.

(As a quick aside for readers outside Ireland its worth noting that for the first half of respective parties existence Fianna Fail and Fine Gael supported locking women up for being, well…women. These organisations today raise questions about the legitimacy of Sinn Fein given its (past) links with the PIRA. And its totally fine and reasonable in a democratic space to do so.

However FF and FG themselves were not engaged in a wrongheaded low level war with a sectarian state and against a government that organised murders gangs all through the period they were locking innocent women and kids up in workhouses and prisons. There was no external factor enforcing their silence and complicity. This was actual state policy supported and run by FF and FG political organisations. Yet somehow the legitimacy of these political organisations is never really questioned.)

The books “Abortion Internationally,” “Abortion: Right or Wrong.” and “Abortion: Our Struggle for Control” are all banned in Ireland. Whilst not exclusively covering abortion “The Complete Guide to Sex” is also banned. Though in fairness I’m not sure any of us have book shelf strong enough to hold what must be a pretty hefty tome. The fact that these books are undoubtedly shared in digital forms shows how obselete the censorship of artifacts is.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

6 Communication tools are important tools in the struggle for social justice.

Social media tools used within an increasingly networked public sphere afford many of us a low cost ability to engage in critical political enquiry and debate about the world we live in. If our conversations – and the tools themselves – are regulated by government – struggles for social justice and equality will be hampered.

Official narratives and meaning making of our lives is still delivered to us by large for-profit media corporations and state run media. For the most part these tend not to reflect our lived reality. Thousands of us across the country blog, tweet and post updates that are rich with political analysis, opinions, sets of ideas and visions. Across all of these is robust criticism of specific politicise and as well as the clear visible failings of representative democracy to deliver real social transformation. They also include articulations of what a genuine democracy of equals could look like.

We share our thoughts, report on local struggles, give our own context to our lived experiences and challenge “common sense” on a daily basis. It is not the place of nation state governments to regulate our thinking, our communications with each other, or our plans for changing things, simply on the basis that they find it offensive or that it causes them alarm.

Many of us are engaged in campaigns, projects and struggle against the causes of inequality and social injustice. In almost all cases, the main political organisations within the state are barriers to solutions long before they are forced to assist. It stands to sense that they are going to be offended. But if members of the professional political classes dont want to be offended or alarmed, maybe they should drop the sense of duty bollix and think about joining these struggles. Or simply get the fuck out of the way.

Either way we dont need new laws and regulations to demand we speak without causing offence. Discourse etiquette has a social context. We live in a neoliberal Ireland, an Ireland wholly captured by the whims and demands of undemocratic financial capital, an Ireland shaped by the same forces and ideology causing social and environmental destruction across Europe and our wider world.

Making it illegal not to be ‘alarmed’ or ‘inconvenienced’ by criticism in this social context is akin to demanding someone stop giving you dirty looks while you keep punching him in the balls. And when he doesn’t to bring him to court to get his balls punched some more by the criminal justice system.

Fuck that.

7 Laws already exist to deal with threats and intimidation

To be clear, I see no point in threatening violence against a politician. The usual media practice is to seek condemnation. Growing up in the north during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I’m well versed with the pantomime of ‘condemnation.’ For the most part its circular time filling. Threats to Higgins as she descibed them on RTE Morning are vile, and disgusting. And they almost certainly fall under existing legislation. There is no need for new legislation to address someone threatening you online. All this is covered by S5 & S10 Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

8 These laws need to be defeated and not passed and we need to start making some noise now if we are to ensure they are.

————————————-

DRAFT / HARMFUL AND MALICIOUS ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS BILL 2015

 

_______________________

 

Bill

entitled

 

An Act to protect against and mitigate harm caused to individuals by all or any digital communications and to provide such individuals with a means of redress for any such offending behaviours directed at them.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:

 

 PART I

Preliminary and General

Short title and commencement

 

1. – (1) This Act may be cited as the Harmful & Malicious Electronic Communications Act 2015

 

(2) This Act shall comes into operation on such day or days as the Minister may appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or provisions.

 

Interpretation

 2. – (1) In this Act –

electronic communication” includes a communication of information in the form of data, text, images or sound (or any combination of these) by means of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy, or both;

 “explicit content” includes images, video or sound (or any combination of these) of a sexual or intimate nature;

shares” includes sending, posting, distributing or publishing on the internet an electronic communication.

 

 

PART II

Offences

Harmful Electronic Communication

3. – (1) A person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, intentionally or recklessly shares a harmful electronic communication shall be guilty of an offence.

 

(2) For the purposes of this section an electronic communication shall be considered harmful where it –

 

(a) incites or encourages another to commit suicide; or(b) incites or encourages another to cause serious harm to themselves; or(c) includes explicit content of the other;

 

and it intentionally or recklessly causes alarm, distress or harm to the other.

 

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

 

Malicious Electronic Communications

4. – (1) A person who, without lawful excuse, persistently shares malicious electronic communications regarding another shall be guilty of an offence.

 

(2) For the purposes of this section an electronic communication shall be considered malicious where it intentionally or recklessly causes alarm, distress or harm to the other.

 

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

 

 

PART III

Jurisdiction and Procedure

Ancillary Orders

5. – (1) If on the evidence the court is not satisfied that the person should be convicted of an offence under sections (3) or (4), the court may nevertheless make any of the following upon application to it in that behalf if, having regard to the evidence, the court is satisfied that it is in the interest of justice so to order:

(a) that the person remove or delete specific electronic communication(s);(b) that the person shares an apology or correction as the court deems appropriate in the circumstances;(c) that the person shall not, for such period as the court may specify, communicate by any means with the other person or that the person shall not approach within such distance as the court shall specify of the place of residence or employment of the other person.

 

(5) A person who fails to comply with the terms of an order under this section shall be guilty of an offence.

 

(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.

PUBLIC ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS (IMPROPER USE) BILL 2015 Bill

An Act to provide for certain offences in connection with the improper use of public electronic communications networks; and to provide for related matters.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:

Amendment of section 13 of Post Office (Amendment) Act 1951

1. The Post Office (Amendment) Act 1951 is amended in section 13, as substituted by section 4 of and Schedule 1 to the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007, by the substitution of the following section:

Offences in connection with public electronic communications networks 13.

(1) A person who—

(a) sends or causes to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or is indecent, obscene or menacing, or

(b) for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another— (i) sends or causes to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that the sender knows to be false,

or (ii) persistently and without reasonable cause makes use of a public electronic communications network, is guilty of an offence.

(2) In subsection (1), ‘public electronic communications network’ means an electronic communications network (within the meaning of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Framework) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 333 of 2011)), that is provided wholly or mainly for the purpose of making available to members of the public, whether on payment or otherwise, electronic communications services (within the meaning of those Regulations). 3 5 10 15 20 25 30

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the transmission, distribution or relay of a broadcasting service, within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a Class A fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both,

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €75,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both.

(5) An offence under subsection (1) is an offence under the Post Office Act 1908.

(6) On convicting a person for an offence under subsection (1), the court may, in addition to any other penalty imposed for the offence, order any apparatus, equipment or other thing used in the course of committing the offence to be forfeited to the State.”.

Short title 2. This Act may be cited as the Public Electronic Communications Networks (Improper Use) Act 2015.

Cork City Hall Occupied in Response to Criminalisation of Dissent

Cork City Hall Occupied in Response to Criminalisation of Dissent

The City Council meeting in Cork was suspended tonight as between 70- 100 activists occupied the city hall. The occupation is in response to the criminalisation of people taking part in demonstrations and actions against the imposition of a water tax.

Last week saw the imprisonment of 5 people for breaking a High Court injunction that in seeks to stop effective blockading of water meter installations. However across the country civil disobediences continues to slow down or stop Denis O Briens company, Seirra GMC, installing meters.

Those occupying city hall in Cork this evening read out a statement which can be seen in the video below.

Photo of occupation in Cork City Hall, proclamation on the wall  Thanks to Páidí Ó Madáin

Photo of occupation in Cork City Hall, proclamation on the wall Thanks to Páidí Ó Madáin

Has resistance to water meter installations just won in Dublin? Not yet it seems.

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UPDATE 6.00pm  : Irish Water refutes Sinn Fein statement and say they arent pulling out. Though they do have a track u turns and vagueness.. Their statement said.

“There has been no withdrawal from any region, Dublin included. Irish Water contractors continue to install meters nationwide as evidenced by the numbers”  They also said “n order to guarantee the safety of metering crews and members of the public, metering works have, on occasion, been postponed on specific sites by the contractors due to the nature of protestor activity. Safety of the metering crews and the general public is a priority for Irish Water….Irish Water cannot comment on the specifics of its contracts with third parties for reasons of confidentiality except to say that it is for our contractors to deliver the metering program in accordance with our requirements; safely and meeting time and budget obligations.”

Irish Water are due to release a statement later today following comments from Sinn Fein’s environment spokesperson to the effect that Dennis O Briens company, Sierra GMC, is to stop installing meters in Dublin. Installations of water meters in Dublin have reduced to a trickle following community and street level mobilisations that have stopped work going ahead.

Seventy seven year old Ms. O'Neill joins her neighbours on the blockade of Irish Water at Montpelier Drive. H/T Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax

Seventy seven year old Ms. O’Neill joins her neighbours on the blockade of Irish Water at Montpelier Drive. H/T Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax

Whilst An Garda Siochana and private security firms like Gardex have worked hand in glove to facilitate water meter installation, including the police forces passing on details of people protesting in their own street, the ongoing consistent resistance seems to have have got results. The cost of continuing to push through water meter installations have been made too high for the company and for the government itself.

If the pull out is confirmed this is a massive boost to the anti water tax movement across the country as it shows the effectiveness of community based direct actions in stopping water meter installations in the capital of the country. Its hard to underestimate the importance of this victory.

That being said it is very unlikely that Denis O Brien will take this lying down. We should fully expect the framing of any decision to stop water meter installations to feed into the existing narratives of “thugish elements” of the anti water tax movements.  The mainstream media are very unlikely to portray this as a gallant win.

The Right 2 Water campaign have understandably sought to create a broad left platform for the coming election. Its common sense to do this. However it would be an a substantive failure of opportunity for radical progessive movement building in Ireland, if electoralism alone is the strategy going forward.  But hey those conversations can happen another day.

Because its clear that street level politics outside the ballot box, be that stopping meters going in, taking meters out or wide spread non payment is what will defeat this.

It looks like street politics in Ireland has had its biggest win in decades. And when people get involved with struggle in their communites and  become emboldened with a win?  Well that’s when things tend to get pretty interesting….

Weere not paying 1

#IrishWater Anti-Repression Demo (and some thoughts)


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UPDATE:  Arrests have now risen to twenty this week with a husband and wife arrested this morning by the police. 


We Wont Pay

Tonight about 700 people gathering outside the Department of Justice and Equality in an anti-repression demonstration. The demonstration was called in response to ongoing arrests of adults and children involved in the anti water tax movement.

Amongst those speaking at the event was Jason Lester a 16 year old boy arrested on Tuesday morning by ten detectives, nine in plain clothes. The police arrested him in his bedroom after he was woken up. “Next thing I new they where standing in my bedroom and arresting me under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.”

Crowd 1

Jason’s arrest was one of 17 so far this week which on Wednesday also included a 14 year old boy. The arrests follow a familiar pattern at this stage where large numbers of police arrive at the break of dawn at peoples houses in the working class community of Tallaght, usually minimum of six police officers per arrest. People are put into cells, stripped of shoes, belts and personal possessions, fingerprinted and interrogated for several hours and then released without charge.  

Crowd 2

The arrests focus on an incident in Jobstown last November when a car driving Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Tánaiste Joan Burton, was prevented from moving for up to three hours by people sitting in front of it. They were demonstrating against the introduction of a water tax, part of ongoing state policies resulting from the shifting of private speculation debt on to public accounts.

Crowd 3

A decision was made to build a case of false imprisonment of the Minister, by an investigation team resourced to a degree one would normally associate with high level criminality such as murders or drug trafficking. Its commonly understood within the wider public and the broad anti-water tax movement that the police operation is motivated not with a desire to convict anyone with false imprisonment of the government minister. That itself is a ludicrous proposition given that footage available on-line shows that her car was surrounded by police at pretty much the whole time.

An understanding of policing in Ireland suggests that the motivations are probably muddy. In part they probably do come from a desire to put manners on people involved in embarrassing and annoying a senior government minister. And if you can simultaneously sling enough hyperbolic mud at a movement you might create division and inoculate others from getting involved. And whilst the history of Irish policing ‘crisis’ show that the force is wide open to political interference, a more mundane reality is that police forces engage in political repression for the same reasons a dog licks its own balls. Because its coded into its DNA. For a substantive look at political policing in Ireland check out this report from the Garda Research Institute. But before looking at policing its worth looking at the movement from which those arrest come from.

The anti water tax movement itself is the largest and most sustained public reaction to years of cuts, job losses, growing poverty and inequality. A sense of the importance and social power of the movement is illustrated by the fact that the political party polling highest at present, Sinn Fein, changed its own position in relation to Irish Water and the proposed introduction of water charges. Other left organisations such as the Socialist Party/Austerity Alternative Alliance and Socialist Worker Party/People Before Profits and trade unions and activists are involved under a broad Right 2 Water banner.

AAA Banner

However the wider movement itself is not under the control of any of these organisations. To be part of it you simply just have to not pay. It is made up of an increasingly networked affiliation of community groupings communicating with each other. In this way groups from across the country, and within the capital, are in regular contact with each other to organise solidarity actions such preventing meter installations or support events like the anti-repression demo.

It is within this context that the arrests this week is perhaps most usefully understood. The Irish government has failed spectacularly at each and every step of trying to create Irish Water as a legitimate social policy. It has bounced between an attitude of arrogance and disdain and open fear as deadlines for registration get pushed back and proposals changed so many times that most of us probably forget what the initial Irish Water proposal was. The entire process has only further fuelled disillusionment and general disconnect between ordinary people and a form of low-cunning politics that is clumsy, cruel, temperamental and when the shit the fan, fundamentally unjust.

Disillusionments with unjust policies, or indeed political systems, pose no threat or possibility of change when they are limited to small left wing meetings. Nor do individual bodies and families worn weary with the stress of bills and putting food on the table, and having to feed the relentless desires of a banking system to have its pound of flesh so that you have a roof over your head.

It is a profoundly different experience for everyone involved, for governments and participants, when that disillusionment is expressed on our streets. Be that hundreds of thousands of people collectively refusing to sign up, twenty thousand people walking together in the capital or twenty or thirty people on their own street stopping water meters going in in the first place.

Each one of these things is an active and living expression of solidarity and care. The very things most visibly absent in the logic of ‘austerity’.

From the perspective of people engaging in this movement, these are beautiful and empowering things. The reality of becoming engaged with our neighbours in trying to shape our world outside the ritual of voting is a transforming experience. We become political and social actors ourselves. And we do it again and again. Exploring that further is another piece of writing, but suffice to say that movements of this size are not just about changing policies or getting better governments in the future at the next election. For thousands of people involved it is a real change in the immediate way we understand what politics is and what it can be.


From the perspective of a government that sees their respective party support falling, and looking across Europe and seeing that peoples movements are a real game changer, public engagement in social solidarity is a terribly bad idea. And perhaps for a moment we can indulge and make evident the basis of this fear. A lot of TD’s in Labour and Fine Gael are going to lose their jobs. We can be generous enough to recognise that it is scary to look forward to the future with that fear. We know it all too well. So at an individual level there is perhaps a case to be made that our own humanity is served to recognise that with empathy. But equally their job losses will be a result of a loyalty to organisations that preside over growing poverty and inequality. So perhaps this is small justice in action.

Though the established order of things is not about individual TD’s. The established order of things is about the maintenance of a captured state. And the maintenance of the established order is primarily achieved by having the power to defined what gets talked about and what doesn’t.

click for full size

click for full size

Arresting Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy first thing on a Monday morning was clearly motivated by a desire sought to shape a media narrative of the week. The headline news at 7am on Monday Morning Ireland, an RTE radio show that sets the news agenda for the day, was about the €3,500,000,000 hidden away by rich Irish people in Swiss accounts of HBSC banks. By 8am the headline was the arrest of Paul Murphy and three others and all other media outlets pursued. Now the arrests most likely were not timed to knock out the Irish end of the global HBSC tax evasion story.

Nonetheless those folks with €3,500,000,000 stashed away enjoy very much the established order of things. Where we see social solidarity and positive actions to make justice and equality central to how our society works, they see a mob. When we challenge the legitimacy of certain policies or orthodoxies, small but powerful interests know that their ability to shape the state to suit themselves is under threat.

And it that sense the demonisation of the broad anti-water tax movement by Denis O Brien press is just part of the historical game played between owners and the owned. The fact that Michael Geoghegan, the former CEO of HBSC at the time, was appointed chair of the NAMA advisory board is a mere footnote in the weeks news. There has been no public debate around precisely who in Ireland defrauded millions from our public services.

Dept J E

It remains to be seen if the wider public in Ireland will be swayed away from non payment by the recent police actions. And when Paul Murphy says he would love to see his day in court so would many of us. Its unlikely to happen. One can only imagine how damaging it would be for Labour and Fine Gael facing electoral meltdown to have the Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton cross examined in the courts. I doubt very much whether the established order of things will have an appetite for that.

I’ll leave the last words to Jason