On Friday February 22, éirígí activists joined members of the Independent Workers Union and the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) for an anti-austerity protest on Bray’s Main Street. The protest took place outside local Labour TD Anne Ferris’ constituency office.
The anti-austerity protestors distributed hundreds of leaflets to passers-by and hung a number of banners and posters on the Labour Party office, some of which read ‘Hands Off Child Benefit’ and ‘Axe the Tax’ in reference to the new home tax.
During the course of the picket, a number of activists entered Ferris’ office and held a peaceful protest inside. The activists took the opportunity to put a number of questions raised by Wicklow residents to Anne Ferris. Ferris refused to answer the activists and instead called the Gardaí.
The Gardaí arrived to witness a peaceful protest outside the office and a peaceful occupation going on inside. The Gardaí then cautioned and arrested veteran socialist republican activist Sean Doyle under trespass legislation. As Sean was led from the Labour Party office in handcuffs, activists and passers-by waved starry plough flags and shouted, “Arrest Anne Ferris not Sean Doyle.”
Following Sean’s arrest the picket moved to Bray Garda station and remained there until he was released.
Speaking from Bray, éirígí Cill Mhantáin spokesperson Adrian O’Raghallaigh said, “If Anne Ferris or any of the other government TDs in Wicklow think for one minute that we will halt the pickets on their offices because of blatant intimidation and threats of arrest then they should catch themselves on. We will continue to build the anti-austerity campaign and continue to highlight the savage attacks on our communities by the Fine Gael/ Labour coalition.”
Speaking after his release, IWU and éirígí member Sean Doyle said, “I conveyed to Anne Ferris that families are cut to the bone and have nothing left to give. I accused Labour and Fine Gael of using the law to force people to hand over money that they need to feed and dress their children. I asked her what she had to say to them. She said she had nothing to say to me or to them and told me to leave.”
In conclusion, Sean stated, “I’m appealing to everybody to join your local anti-austerity and CAHWT campaigns and continue to organise to defend your homes, families and communities.”
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