Gardaí Heavy Handed At Kinsale Protest
A big Garda and Special Branch presence at the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Course, outside Kinsale, Co. Cork, prevented over fifty protesters and walkers from gaining access to the tradition walk to the lighthouse on Sunday. Although this was the first time that we have failed to gain access to the walk, a spirited sit-down protest at the gates to the golf links ensured that 'business at usual' did not happen. The next protest date has been set for Sunday, June 29th with a planned 'carnival' and 'sit-down' blocade as the likely tactics to be used.
From the outset it was clear that the Gardaí's approach to the protests at the golf course had changed. On foot of the Supreme Court decision supporting the exclusive Golf Course's right to bar the general public from having any access to the scenic area, Superintendent Richard Duggan of Bandon announced that any attempt to gain entry to the golf course would be seen as 'trespass on private property'. In a further departure from previous years, over thirty uniformed Gardaí, Emergency Response Unit and Special Branch took up position inside the gates of the Old Head Golf Course, to secure both the gate and fences from any attempt by protesters and walkers to gain access. These Garda forces were backed up by a huge civilian force of 'private security' hired by the golf course owners, the millionaire O 'Connor Brothers. Other Gardai barred access to the main gate on the outside.
Torrential rain played a major part in reducing the numbers that made it to the remote Old Head for the afternoon protest and as a result it was clear from 2 pm onwards that the protesters were badly out-numbered. After a number of requests to gain entry to the traditional walk, protesters blocked the main gate leading into the golf course. When a number of vehicles attempted to leave, the Special Branch and Gardaí manhandled protesters to the side. As usual excessive force was used and a number of plain clothes Special Branch refused to identify themselves to protesters who had been manhandled. After a stand-off the vehicles made their way through the blocade and left the golf course. However in a clear sign that the Gardaí were unhappy with how events were developing, no further vehicles were allowed to leave the golf course until the protest formally ended at 4 pm. Despite their failure to gain entry to the walk, a meeting of protesters resolved to return at the end of June.
see also http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws/2001/66/kinsale.html
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[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]