Court report on Mayday protest arrestee

Once again, this morning I found myself in another courthouse. It's the nature of our politics, that we are constantly on collision course with the authorities in whatever land we find ourselves. Polly Murphy was in court today in the bridewell for Trespass, section 13 of the all-encompassing, and all captivating laws under Public Order.

[Polly was arrested and charged with trespass a couple of days before the Mayday protest, then held in Mountjoy for 9 days until the Mayday weekend had passed. She had come over from Britain and after her arrest with the two others held underwent a vitriolic 'trial by media' in both the tabloids and broadsheets where all sorts of accusation were made that had nothing to do with the charges brought. Her bail conditions, which are incredibly restrictive for a trespass charge, mean that she has to stay in Ireland and sign on at a Gardai station 3 times per week! This together with the 9 days already spent in Mountjoy amount to considerably more punishment than anyone brought up on a tresspass charge ever gets, leaving no room for doubt that this is political persecution, pure and simple. (Explanatory note added by Joe Black)]

The warm courthouse was packed this morning with people. The judge, a bearded character, appeared to be in good humour, which gave me hope. Polly sat at the back of the court 46 with a few of us. The back of the courthouse is the public gallery where friends and the accused lounge in pews that remind one of a church. Just directly in front of me a drunk, weather beaten man, swayed from right to left occasionally slipping in and out of consciousness. In front of the public, the not so thin blue line of Gardai stand waiting for their cases to be called. The court clerk called each case and the judge either pushed it out to another date in the future, issued a bench warrant for the accused no-shows, or put the case back to second calling.

Finally, after about fifty minutes of these mumbling procedures at the top of the court, Polly's case was called. I couldn't quiet hear what was going on but distinctly heard the date of the 10th of November being mentioned. The arresting portly officer said that this would give him enough time to compile statements. Then it was onto the next case.

I met up with Polly outside who was having a rapid de-briefing session with her brief. The date was correct; the court would not deal with this case until the 10th of November. So for a minor offence, Polly has spent two weeks in custody, has to remain in a strange country for over six months to be tried. The state hasn't really complied a case, or got any real evidence so in effect what we have is a case of the punishment being meted out before the trial.

The arresting Garda spoke directly to Polly and explained that he would not have a problem with her getting her passport back. This is essential if she is to get any money from the doleocrats. He basically said that she was unlikely to receive any further punishment beyond that which she has already had to deal with, and he is supposed to be compiling the case against her. This is a flash if insight into how the justice system works. They procrastinate a case and make your life miserable prior to actually hearing any evidence. A case of guilty until you prove your innocence. Polly still has to sign on three times a week, and is on the verge of being destitute if the social services do not get their act together. I believe that if there was justice, she would be allowed return home to come back and face the Judge on the 10th of November. But I'm an idealist but a realist when it comes to dealing with the STATE and it's interpretation of Justice.


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

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