July 2013

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To be watched, inspected, spied upon - Shell's law in Erris

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Shell to Sea campaigner Naoise Ó Mongáin asking Garda to stop videotaping his grand daughter during a protest at Shell's refinery on Saturday.

 

Readers experiences of policing or comments on Make Policing History

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The is the readers comments page for the Make Policing History texts.  We want to hear what your experiences are or what your comments on the text are.

If you have not yet read the Make Policing History text click on this link.

Why we put this pamphlet together: Secrets, lies and unaccountable policing

Date:

It really does not take a lot of effort to come across anecdotal evidence of insensitive and sometimes brutal policing in working class areas in Ireland.  As residents, community workers and educators in a wide variety of settings we have both personally experienced Garda violence and have heard countless negative stories about the gardaí.  These stories cover a wide range of issues. Most consistently people, usually but not exclusively young men, complain of insults, intimidation on the street and of physical violence during arrest and in custody.  The violence they describe is of varying degrees of seriousness and routinely involves minor assault (e.g. slaps, kidney punches and limb twisting etc) but more serious violence can and does occur (1).

How the gardaí were made

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There is something mystifying about the police force in the Republic of Ireland. A force born out of a bloody civil war yet strangely absent from popular memories of those long years of violence. A force celebrated for its rootedness in Irish cultural practices yet operating in the same centralised, colonial model inherited from the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force of British state.

Working-class experiences of the Gardaí

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A current crisis - Today we live in a media-saturated society that sensationalises crime and gangland warfare in working-class communities.  Some say the media through its various functions has become a sort of moral barometer for the national imagination in terms of how the working classes are perceived.  This, perhaps, is done through newspapers' slash headlines like “Thugs never had it so good” or “Bugsy Malone gang terrorise North Dublin”, or through current TV shows that give a picture of working-class people as rough and disrespectable such as Jerry Springer or The Royle Family. All this actively contributes to the respresentation of the working classes as disresputable.

Terence Wheelock: looking for justice

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In June 2005 Terence Wheelock fell into a coma while in custody in a Dublin city centre police station. This 20 year old man never recovered from the injuries he sustained in a police cell and three months later he died. The family and friends of Terence Wheelock are still waiting for a credible and complete account of what happened in the station. This article tells the story of Terence Wheelock, the campaign for an independent inquiry into his death and the response of the the Irish state. A lot of the material used in this article was gathered in interviews with one of his older brothers, Larry Wheelock, who led the campaign looking for an independent inquiry into his Terence Wheelock’s death (21).

The prisoner who disappeared…for a while

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Derek D from Ballymun was 24 years old in March 2007, when he was sentenced to two terms of imprisonment for firearms offences and sent to Mountjoy Prison. He was known in his area for being tough and had several previous convictions. By his own account, once in Mountjoy he put his head down to do his time and get out before he was 30 (27).  It was almost two years into these particular sentences, on 20th January 2009, when Derek D found two prison officers at the door of his cell telling him to follow them. Without notice, he was taken out and away to Portlaoise maximum security prison, without his clothes or belongings, where he was placed in isolation in a cell in a segregation unit in a block containing five separate units in the prison, used for punishments.

I still remember my first time

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I still remember my first time.  It was a fine sunny morning on the Easter bank holiday weekend in 1991.  I had just dropped my girlfriend off at an inter-city coach and was walking back past the bank on College Green when a voice behind me said ‘Stop, I want to talk to you for a minute’.  Presuming it was someone trying to sell me something, I waved them off, but then the guy in the badly fitting suit walked around in front of me, held out some sort of ID card and announced he was Special Branch.

Reclaim the Streets 2002: a police riot and the aftermath

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The following piece is an interview with X, a victim of the police riot that took place May 6th 2002. The ‘Reclaim The Streets’ (RTS) protest tactic, hosting spontaneous temporary street parties in the name of community ownership over public space, emerged out of anti-capitalist and environmental grassroots politics in the UK in the early 90’s and rapidly spread across Europe, Australia, North America and later to South America, Asia and Africa attracting anywhere between a few hundred to tens of thousands of revellers. Following a successful first run of RTS in Dublin the previous year, the 2002 street party kicked off along Burgh Quay with about 400 partyers dancing to music played from a rig blocking one of the city’s main roads. The crowd soon doubled in size and the festival atmosphere continued for most of the afternoon until the police became hostile and began making arrests.

Resisting Shell in Mayo and the experience of policing in Erris: an eyewitness account

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The following article is an eyewitness account of policing in Erris in Mayo where protests against Shell construction of a gas refineryare ongoing. The article gives some general background to the protests and details what it was like to see Garda brutality on a regular basis.

Policing the anti-war movement in Ireland

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The following exploration of the policing of the anti-war demonstrations will be in two parts: the first will look at the change in policing through the eyes of a participant, a new activist, while the second will make a more thorough examination of the forces at work which lead to such a massive escalation in the policing of anti-war protest, particularly at Shannon, both on the side of the protesters and that of the gardaí.

When do the police get away with violence, and why?

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In any society that has a state (and so police, courts, jails, and soldiers) and different classes (the super-rich and homeless people, shopkeepers and professionals, travelling people and farmers etc.), the state treats different classes differently. Many people argue that this is what states are for anyway; but all that matters for the purposes of this article is that this is what actually happens.

From force to fencing: political policing in the Republic of Ireland

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This essay attempts to describe some of the highlights of the policing of political protest in the Republic of Ireland from the late 1960s to the present day. We may begin with some obvious generalisations: there are differences between Garda policing of protests by ‘respectable’ and ‘non-respectable groups’, and protests by republicans or radicals receive more forceful policing than protests by trade unions or farmers. The difference lies in garda perception of the legitimacy of these protesters, not in the groups’ actual protest behaviour. Farmers were permitted to use disruptive tactics while peaceful marches  were physically attacked. Throughout the period in question we can see Garda response to protester innovations, although responses were not limited to the gardaí. We should note the state legislative response to protest through the passage of laws such as the Forcible Entry Act and successive Criminal Justice Acts broadened Garda powers to intervene in and control protest.

Appendix - Policing Ireland: some useful resources

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This list is intentionally ‘partitionist’ in that it deals only with police in the “26 counties” as providing material on policing in the “6 counties” would easily treble the length of the guide.

Challenging targeted policing: my experiences in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Date:

Mike Harris came to power as Premier of Ontario in 1995. Harris could easily be characterised as ruthless, callous and even authoritarian. One of his first acts as Premier was to slash welfare payments by a whopping 21.6%. Under his “Common Sense Revolution” Harris cancelled funding for affordable housing and curtailed services to the homeless, introduced workfare, repealed pro-labour legislation, brought in tighter eligibility criteria for disability allowance, and introduced legislation in relation to renting and tenants rights that resulted in many more becoming homeless in the process.  Poor people were demonised and cast as scroungers and cheats, with welfare fraud hotlines established to report them.

Making policing history: different ways of resisting

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How have activists tried to put manners on the police? Which methods have worked? Which might be worth trying? This article is a brief overview of different ways of resisting political and social policing.

Challenging the gardaí: a personal experience

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The incident - On a Saturday night in July 2008 at about 11pm, I was waiting outside a fast food restaurant in Drumcondra for a friend, when over eight garda vehicles came speeding from a few different directions with their sirens on. They pulled up outside a pub just up the road from where I was. I cycled up to have a look at what was going on. When I got up there, there didn’t seem to be a lot going on. I started to film the line of garda vehicles parked in the centre of the road. I had been filming less than a minute when a guard approached me, demanding that I give him the camera. I put the camera in my pocket and told him it was a public area and I was entitled to film.

The Prisoners’ Rights Organisation: a case study in grassroots organising, ‘history from below’ & police accountability

Date:

The Prisoners’ Rights Organisation (PRO) was founded in the early 1970s. Before its dissolution in the late eighties it was in many ways a unique phenomenon - a small but highly energetic grassroots organisation that consistently called public attention to cases of police brutality and misconduct through varied forms of street protest and media work. This article tells the story of the formation and development of the organisation and the ‘hidden history’ of  the PRO’s attempt to make police accountable.

Making Policing History: Studies of Garda Violence and Resources for Police Reform

Date:

These texts are written and edited by the Garda Research Institute which is composed of residents, community workers and educators who have both personally experienced Garda violence and have heard countless negative stories about the gardaí.  They came together to examine the role of the gardaí and in particular to spark debate and discussion about who gets targeted by the police and why.

The text is structured in the following way. Following the introduction and a piece on the making of the gardaí, the pamphlet is divided into three sections, the first of which looks at the experience of the policed.  The next section looks at the policing of protest by the gardaí.  The final section looks at responses to policing and examines how grassroots activists and movements have attempted to make the police more accountable.

For ease of reading you can download a PDF of the entire text in A4 format or fold over A5 format.

Turkey's Uprising - 2 eyewitness accounts - Saturday July 13th, 3pm, Solidarity Books

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Saturday July 13th, 3pm at Solidarity Books, 43 Douglas St., Cork
 
Turkey's Uprising - Two Eyewitness Accounts
 
Temmuz Gurbuz (MA Student at UCC from Turkey)

 
Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement)
 
Both speakers have just returned from separate trips to Istanbul and elsewhere around the country, where they have observed and participated in the current movement that erupted since the occupation of Gezi Park a month ago.
 

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