On 27th March 2001Anti-Racism groups held a protest tomorrow at Bertie Ahern's constituency office, St. Lukes in Drumcondra, to demand the dropping of charges against activists who were arrested at a protest last year. The eleven activists involved in the peaceful sit-in on March 28th 2000 have been charged under the Public Order Act and face large fines and possibily jail sentences.
Spokesperson Mags Glennon said: "In the past week we have seen prominent Fianna Fáil members, including Bertie Ahern and John O Donoghue, declaring that racism must not be tolerated. These statements, issued to coincide with the International Day Against Racism, display their hypocrisy. In addition to the many and ongoing racist measures this government has introduced against asylum-seekers, Fianna Fáil is also pursuing a group of anti-racist protesters through the courts for a peaceful protest which took place a year ago."
On March 28th last year a short sit-in took place at the Drumcondra office. The action was taken because, on that day, the government was meeting to discuss a number of draconian measures to be introduced against asylum-seekers, most of which have now been implemented. These included:
Anti-racist groups decided to highlight these injustices in a direct but entirely peaceful manner. Occupations have been used many times in the past to draw attention to unjust actions by governments in Ireland.
All eleven activists were arrested and two women were later strip searched in Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station. The activists have now been charged under the 1994 Public Order Act and a trial date has been fixed for May 21st and 22nd 2001. The activists face heavy fines and possibly prison sentences.
Ms Glennon continued: "We are calling for the charges against the activists to be dropped. The use of the Public Order Act against peaceful protesters is an attack on civil liberties and an attempt to intimidate political activists into shutting up about state injustice and racism in Ireland. Support is growing for our campaign and will increase as the court cases approach."
Supporters of the Dublin 11 campaign include: Organisations - Anti-Fascist Action; Anti-Racism Campaign; Anti-Racist Education Group; Committee of Romanian Community in Ireland; Interculture; Irish Immigrant Support Centre, Cork; Irish Republican Writers Group; Kilkenny Asylum Seekers Friendship Group; Ogra Shinn Féin; Residents Against Racism; Workers Solidarity Movement; Rebel City Collective, Cork; Romanian Community of Ireland Support Group; Sinn Féin; South Armagh Republican Youth; The Workers Party; Tramore pro refugee group; Union of Students in Ireland/Aontas Na Mac Léinn in Éireann
Individuals - Cllr Finian McGrath, Ind, Dublin Corporation; Mick O Reilly, General Secretary ATGWU; Mary Enright, Vice President, Dublin Council of Trade Unions; Des Bonass, ATGWU; Donnacha O Connell, Irish Council for Civil Liberties; Cian O Callaghan, Deputy President, USI; Alison Gibney, Welfare Officer, USI; Ivana Bacik, Reid Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, TCD; Dr Sean Marlow, DCU. Julian de Spáinn, President, USI; Ronit Lentin, Dept. of Sociology, TCD.
On 28th March 2000 a group of eleven anti-racists occupied the Taoiseach's constituency office, in protest at proposed draconian measures against asylum seekers. The government was planning to introduce prison ships (so-called 'flotels'), forcible fingerprinting and the introduction of police from abroad to catch people fleeing injustice in their own countries.