The trial of éirígí activist and anti-austerity protestor Dónall Ó Ceallaigh will take place at 10.30am on Monday, March 11, in the Courts of Criminal Justice, in Dublin. A solidarity protest for Dónall will take place at 10am outside the courts buildings which are located on Parkgate Street.
Ó Ceallaigh faces trumped up charges of €9 worth of ‘criminal damage’ and ‘breaching the peace’ arising out of his involvement in a ‘Hands Off Child Benefit Protest’ on October 5 2012 in Ballyfermot.
The protest had been organised by éirígí Ballyfermot to coincide with a visit to the area by Twenty-Six County Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald. As the ministerial car arrived in Ballyfermot a crowd of over forty local residents blocked its path in protest at proposed cuts to Child Benefit. The mood of the protest was angry and defiant with protestors chanting ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’ and ‘Hands Off Child Benefit’. During the course of the protest a number of eggs were thrown at the car carrying Gilmore and Fitzgerald. Dónall Ó Ceallaigh was subsequently arrested.
Left with proverbial egg on their faces, and actual egg on their luxury car, Gilmore and Fitzgerald retreated from Ballyfermot without completing their engagement – a cynical photo-opportunity with children from the area.
The state has since pursued a petty, political show trial against Dónall Ó Ceallaigh. In the six months since the protest, Dónall has been dragged before the courts on six separate occasions. During his seconded appearance the court erupted in laughter when the arresting Garda stated that the charge of criminal damage was for a total of €9 – the cost of a car wash to clean the ministerial steed!
Speaking from Ballyfermot, éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan said, “Dónall Ó Ceallaigh should not have been dragged before the courts in the first place. Dónall took part in a legitimate political protest against the severe austerity measures being imposed by the Dublin government. The anger against the Fine Gael/ Labour coalition, which erupted at the protest, is widespread across the area.
“Gilmore and the Dublin government are quite happy wasting taxpayers’ money pursuing a nonsensical criminal damage charge of €9, while at the same time they are cutting vital public services left, right and centre. If there was any justice in this country Gilmore, Fitzgerald and Kenny would be in the dock for their crimes against the people of Ireland.
“The truth is that this case has nothing to do with criminal damage or breach of the peace. The government and the state are attempting to send a message to anti-austerity protestors – if you fight back you will be arrested, charged and dragged before the courts. The Dublin government are attempting to use Dónall’s trial to intimidate others from protesting.”
Minihan continued, “That Dónall has now been before the court on six occasions for taking legitimate political action is farcical. On March 11, all charges should be dropped and the case should be struck out. éirígí activists will not be deterred from standing up for our communities because of arrests, courts or imprisonment. I would encourage all those concerned at the criminalisation of anti-austerity protesters to stand in solidarity with Dónall when he goes to trial on March 11. A clear message needs to be sent that the people will not be intimidated.”
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