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Date Set for Anglo Irish Bank Protesters Trial

03/08/10

The Anglo Irish AccusedA trial date has finally been set for the seven éirígí activists who were charged with a variety of offences arising from a peaceful protest at Anglo Irish Bank Headquarters on May 15 (see Anglo Irish Protest & Garda Attack for full report).

All seven – Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox, Eoin Ó Se, John McCusker, Pádraig Ó Meiscill and Daithí Mac An Mháistír – will now be tried in Court 18 of the Dublin District Court on October 14.

The Twenty-Six County state used the opportunity of the latest court appearance on July 21 to amend the charges against four of the accused, before offering them a ‘plea bargain’. As Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Se arrived at the Parkgate Street courts they were informed that the original charge of ‘criminal trespass’ was to be replaced by one which accused them of “... without reasonable excuse, to trespass on any building or the curtilage thereof in such a manner as causes or is likely to cause fear in another person”.

In a clear indication of the state’s unease at the prospect of adverse publicity, all four were later offered the option of accepting a formal caution in return for the dropping of all charges against them, an offer which was promptly rejected. The stage is now set for a trial which will see seven Irish citizens face the possibility of criminal convictions, fines and jail as a result of them exercising their right to peaceful protest.

Speaking after the setting of the trial date, cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said: “The recent legal manoeuvres by the Twenty-Six County state had one clear objective – to make this case disappear with as little publicity as possible. By amending the charge to one which it believes is more likely to result in a conviction, the state hoped to intimidate our activists into accepting a plea bargain. By rejecting the option of a formal Garda caution, Ursula, Daithí, Robbie and Eoin refused to let the state off the hook. For this they should be commended.

“All four now face the prospect of a conviction and up to six months in jail because they dared to challenge the disastrous, criminal bank bailout by holding a banner on the roof of the porch of Anglo Irish Bank’s headquarters. If this wasn’t bad enough, Daithí, John and Pádraig are now also facing potential jail sentences because they went to the aid of four friends who had been assaulted by the Gardaí.”

Leeson continued: “The treatment meted out to these seven republicans stands in stark contrast to how the state has chosen to deal with Seán Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingelton, Bertie Ahern and the rest of the golden circle who have brought us to the point of economic ruin. It is now quite possible that some, or all, of these seven activists will be the first and only people to go to jail as a result of the collapse of the private banking sector. Was there ever a clearer case of their being one law for the rich and another law for the rest of us?

“If the state had either sense or decency it would drop the charges against all seven immediately. Should this case go to trial, we in éirígí will ensure that it will do so in a blaze of publicity. If the state intends to criminalise the right to peaceful protest and jail those who oppose the bank bailouts we won’t be allowing them to do so without the people of this country knowing all about it.

“Between now and the trial date in October, éirígí will be highlighting this case to as wide an audience as possible. I would ask anyone who finds the prospect of peaceful protesters being imprisoned while criminal bankers run free abhorrent, to do likewise, to tell their family, friends and workmates about the case of the Anglo Irish seven.”

 

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