Court Report - Burlington Cases

10th July 2002-07-10

A court report on the continuing prosecution of activists arrested at the Burlington hotel anti-privitisation protests in Oct 2001. For background see

Court 50 on a Wednesday morning in July can be a fairly busy place. I arrived down at around 10.30am just as the Judge walked in and everyone had to stand up. A number of cases were postponed. Some fines were paid (usually in cash) to the State. Where does this money go I wonder? I quickly got bored of the proceedings and started to read the newspaper I'd brought. This action - reading a newspaper - offended some cop who told me to stop.

The Case involving Grace Lally, Richard Boyd Barret and one other person was postponed (a football reference - not sure if it's the right term) on the basis that one of the witnesses could not be present due to having to attend the funereal of a grandparent. The judge pushed the case out to be heard on the 20th of September. The next case involved 4 defendants (Conor being one of them) and this too was left until the 20th of September because the same witness was going to be called that was not present.

Finally the case against Maria was heard. The Guard O'Sullivan was first in the witness stand. He said that Under section 6 - he felt that the "behaviour was threatening" What he was referring to was people sitting down in front of him shouting slogans. The Guard never identified the defendant in the statement. He preferred to use the amorphous term 'protesters'. The only other person who the guard identified was Rory Ahearn who has subsequently had all charges dropped against him. The Guard O'Sullivan said that there was a second surge - after the protesters got up from their sit down protest and it was at this point that the Gardai decided to withdraw batons and charge into the crowd. The council for the defence decided at this point to play a video of the events, which had been in police custody since the event itself. It never showed this illusionary second surge, which Guard O'Sullivan claimed, took place but it did show the defendant sitting down at the forefront of the sit down protest. This was duly noted by the Judge. The guard claimed that there was the surge when they went in to arrest someone at the front of the protest. The Guard received no complaint from a member of the public claiming that they felt threatened.

Maria (the defendant) in her testimony said that after the sit down protest she got up to leave and there was a spontaneous attack by the police and some members of hotel security. She said that she never was informed why she was arrested and only found out later that evening what she was officially charged with. Maria claimed that the protesters entered the car park of the hotel as a political statement, and to make her point. She did not enter the hotel. She was in the middle of the crowd when there was a clash at the doors of the hotel.

The Judge upon hearing all the evidence decided to accept the evidence the Guard and to not accept the testimony of the defendant. He claimed that she entered the Car park knowing that people were going to attempt to enter the hotel. He said that 60 or 70 people had tried to gain entrance to the Hotel. After this the crowd of protestors ignored the inspectors warning to disperse. Then most surprisingly he launched into a tirade against the politics of the protestors. How many of them put themselves up for election at the last general election and tried to convince others of their policies? They don't have the courage of their own convictions to do this?

Of course the irony of this was that Maria had worked in the recent election trying to convince others to vote for an SWP candidate in the Waterford area. Needless to say no one was going to be able to point this out to the Judge because we all knew that would entail a charge of contempt of court.

Fine: Euro300 & a Conviction for the 20-year-old expectant mother - who had never been in trouble with the police before.

Another case was heard after this and two further defendants were found not guilty. I wasn't around to hear this case.

Charles Parker

[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]

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