By Declan Foley
In the 21 century to witness the recently completed Court Trial of those
involved in a political protest: protest bearing similarities to trials
of protesters in the days of British rule, is indeed surreal.
all protests from government Ministers that they played no role
whatsoever in the prosecutions: there is now a perception that this was
political payback. Perception does far more damage than fact.
the case came to trial is beyond belief. Whilst we must respect the
independence of the DPP, the DPP should have taken into account the
fact that the case would be turned into a political trial. There are
times when democracy and separation of powers are best served by
inaction, rather than action, particularly legal action. Historically
called 'giving a fool's pardon'.
video evidence was available. The prosecution had one Senior Counsel:
the defendants had seven Senior Counsel. Surely, someone could have
foreseen the shambles the
one versus seven legal minds could create. There were far worse
political protests in the 1970-80s, yet no charges were ever laid.
are no winners in the "Jobstown Trial". The Labour Party have suffered
enormous damage, as has Fine Gael, not to mention an Garda Siochana. In
effect the biggest loser is democracy, because it now places the Garda
Siochana in an invidious position when it comes to policing future
Frances Fitzgerald did no one any favour, when she said in the Dail '. . . .as
in many court cases there is always the possibility of appeal,. . . ".
Cynics may well ask: 'Was this why Maire Whelan was appointed to the
Melanie Greally is to be congratulated for her decision to allow the
jury to do their duty, albeit with proper judicial advice. Some will say
Judge Greally should have thrown the case out in the beginning or even
part way through. We should be thankful she allowed the case to run its
course, and to allow the jury to make the decision. By doing so, Judge
Greally removed any perception of "political interference".
witnessed far bigger demonstrations here in Melbourne in 1990, and
there were no criminal proceedings against anyone, even when the car
containing Premier of Western Australia was blocked at a street
junction for an hour. He read his papers and waited for the mob to let
him go. In 1998 the Liberal Party of Australia, then in Federal
government, tried to use the Victoria Police to break up a protest on
Melbourne docks. As a large body of police in riot gear approached the
striking dockers they were surrounded by more than a thousand Trade
Union members. The
Police Superintendent in charge turned to his officers, and said "Let
us get out of here, we are not political tools", and they disbursed.
is a time to pick a fight; the Jobstown protest was not the time. The
only injury that day was to the pride of a politician, her adviser and a
few police officers. Surely when Health Services are in dire straits
this is not the time to waste millions of Euros on childish antics.
politicians of all parties need to wise up to the needs of the
majority: not just the needs of their, minority financial supporters.
They also need to wise up smartly that the days of having a particular
news outlet on your side is not alone passe: it has been completely overtaken by social media.
"The Jobsotwn Trial" will be the wake up call to Irish politicians in
love with austerity, that the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell
tragedy has been to British, and some EU leaders.
In the end people matter far more than money.