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3 July 2017

Victory: protest is not a crime!

Jobstown is officially not guilty

Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland)

"The news has just come through from the Central Criminal Court and I am the first to report it to the house.

"Deputy Paul Murphy: not guilty. Councillor Michael Murphy: not guilty. Councillor Kieran Mahon: not guilty. Frank Donaghy: not guilty. Michael Banks: not guilty. And Scott Masterson: not guilty."

Mick Barry, Socialist Party member and Solidarity TD (MP), announced the verdict on the six Jobstown protest defendants on 29 June in the Dáil, the Irish parliament.

TDs from the parties of the capitalist establishment, most notably Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald and Labour leader Brendan Howlin, were visibly crestfallen.

It is a stunning blow to them, the gardaí (police), and the whole state machine. Loyally egged on by the capitalist media, they orchestrated trumped-up charges of 'false imprisonment' of then-Tánaiste Joan Burton and her assistant Karen O'Connell on 15 November 2014.

On this day, a peaceful protest took place in the deprived working class community of Jobstown, near Dublin, against the imposition of charges for water.

Burton, who backed the charges, was on a visit to the area. Protesters impeded the progress of her car over the course of two hours by sitting around it.

The protest was not an isolated one. The anti-water charges movement had exploded from below in the Autumn of 2014, reflecting the seething discontent against six years of austerity for working class people.

Added to this was disgust with Burton's Labour Party. Having shamelessly lied to win the trappings of power in February 2011, it was dutifully implementing cuts, austerity taxes and bank bailouts.

Mass non-payment succeeded only months ago in abolishing water charges for normal usage. Nowhere is this double blow more apparent than in Ireland's supposed paper of record, the Irish Times.

The day after the verdict its front page story dealt with two tweets by Socialist Party member and Solidarity TD Paul Murphy towards the end of the trial, as opposed to the fact that Paul and five others were acquitted unanimously by a jury of their peers.

The Times argues that social media influences the outcome of a trial. They are ignoring how two and a half years of vicious lies and propaganda against the people of Jobstown helped shape bias against the protesters, particularly among sections of the middle class.

They would like us to forget about the real outrage of the Jobstown trial: a succession of gardaí lied in their statements, and under oath on the witness stand. Clearly there was an attempt by the state to pervert the course of justice.

We are demanding a full independent inquiry to investigate how the Jobstown charges were brought about. All the charges against the remaining eleven Jobstown defendants must be dropped. The earlier conviction of a 17-year-old protester in the Children's Court should be overturned.

Working class people are supposed to passively accept austerity. The capitalist establishment wanted to use this trial to create a chill factor for anyone thinking of challenging the status quo.

Critically, they wanted to undermine the Socialist Party and Anti-Austerity Alliance who played a decisive role in building non-payment of the water charges - something Sinn Féin and many trade union leaders were not prepared to do.

The establishment is clearly worried about the growing influence of the socialist left.

There have been important strikes in the last year. The burgeoning movement demanding abortion rights held mass protests on International Women's Day. There is growing support for separating church and state.

It all shows a desire for meaningful, radical change on the part of workers, women, LGBT+ and young people. The crisis-ridden system we live under is incapable of meeting such aspirations.

This poses the necessity of building an anti-capitalist, socialist left that can challenge the undemocratic, corrupt and rotten capitalist system itself.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 3 July 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/25777




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