At a sitting of the District Court in Kinsale town yesterday (Dec 5th), local Gardai [Irish police - Ed.] made a laughing stock of themselves when they sought to prosecute a Mr Jim Blake for damage to a fence at the entrance area to the 'Old Head of Kinsale' on last Easter weekend - the occasion of a mass protest and trespass by the Free The Old Head Campaign. But proceedings had hardly got underway when the Gardai attempted a reverse manouver and asked to have the matter of the prosecutions of Mr Blake struck out due to the fact that 'it had come to their attention that Mr Blake was not in Kinsale at the time'. Jim Blake, a member of the SWP and SIPTU, agreed and pointed out that on the date and time in question he was working at his job in St Finbarr's Hospital, and had his timesheet to prove this. He had clocked in as normal on that Sunday and couldn't have been in Kinsale. He added that he supported the campaign and regretted that he hadn't been there on day at the Old Head to add his assistance but it was not to be... (A lot of laughting in the courtroom!).
The judge, happy to forgive the Gardai their error, attempted to strike the matter immediately, but Mr Blake insisted that he was out of pocket due to having to give up a day's work and having to consult a lawyer. In fact only the day before, despite acceptance by the Gardai that they had a case of MISTAKEN IDENTITY on their hands, he was told that his case was going to court and he had to be in attendance. The judge refused to accept Jim Blake's claim for compensation and suggested that Mr Blake take his claim to the DPP. It was, said the judge, a matter (a mistake) that happens from time to time.
The case against another FTOHK Campaign activist, James McBarron, a member of the Workers Solidarity Movement and the IWU, was subsequnetly adjourned until early January pending an application for free legal aid. Furhter details then.
Since the very beginning of the Free The Old Head Campaign there has been intense Garda surveillance of those in attendance at the protests, as well as a high profile Garda presence at almost every opportunity. Indeed at one protest the Irish Examiner reported that some 30-40 Garda were present - an unusual high number for a remote area on a Sunday afternoon in an ordinary summer period. It is mostly likely that the Garda presence, and these recent summons, are at the behest of the O'Connor brothers, the owners of Old Head of Kinsale Golf Course, who earlier this years launched a number of public attacks against the Campaign using the pages of a number of national newspapers. The O'Connors are believe to be 'incensed' by the campaign against the exclusive golf course and at the persistence of the campaign which will be going into its third years soon.
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[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]