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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 March 2017

Support the Jobstown defendants: Defend the right to public protest

Socialist Party members and Jobstown anti-water charges activists protesting outside London's Irish embassy against persecution of the Jobstown protesters, September 2016, photo Neil Cafferky

Socialist Party members and Jobstown anti-water charges activists protesting outside London's Irish embassy against persecution of the Jobstown protesters, September 2016, photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

Neil Cafferky

The international campaign of solidarity with Jobstown protesters in Dublin took a big step forward in Britain with the backing of Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain's largest union, Unite.

Len made clear his support in a letter co-written with Jimmy Kelly, the secretary of the Irish Region (Unite organises on both sides of the Irish border) addressed to the Irish minister for justice, Frances Fitzgerald.

"Sit-down protests that delay politicians are a part of the fabric of democratic rights that people have won over many years. It is a very serious infringement of the right to protest that the Irish state and judicial system are pursuing these cases, criminalising protest and working class communities.

"It is outrageous that people could face long prison sentences and that a democratically elected parliamentarian - Paul Murphy TD - could be removed from parliament.

"We demand that the charges against the 18 are dropped immediately, failing which we will build support for the Jobstown defendants and for the right to protest among the millions of trade unionists in Britain and Ireland."

Support for the Jobstown protesters has also started to come in from trade union branches across Britain. In the West Midlands, Unite branch 6110 has pledged its support and sent a donation of £100. Salford City Unison branch unanimously backed the campaign along with a donation of £50.

The international campaign of solidarity has grown rapidly with figures such as Noam Chomsky, left-wing French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and a raft of MEPs from around Europe voicing their support.


Seven defendants charged with unlawful imprisonment for participating in a peaceful sit-down protest in front of the then Táinaiste's (deputy prime minister) car in 2014 will face trial on 24 April. Three of the defendants are elected representatives of the Anti Austerity Alliance and members of the Socialist Party - Paul Murphy TD (MP) and councillors Mick Murphy and Kieran Mahon.

If convicted they could face a maximum charge of life imprisonment.18 adults in total face prosecution.

The Jobstown protest was against the imposition of unjust water charges - subsequently dropped by the current Fine Gael-led minority government as a result of a mass non-payment movement initiated by the Irish Socialist Party and Anti Austerity Alliance. The water charges were part of the previous Fine Gael coalition government's austerity measures - bailout conditions demanded by the EU.

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