Hundreds protest conviction of Jobstown teen following Burton sit in


Hundreds of people marched through Dublin on Saturday to protest the conviction of a Jobstown teen for false imprisonment.  He had been part of a protest which delayed Labour Party leader Joan Burton who had made an unwelcome visit to the community resulting in a sit down in front of her car as she left the area.  The delay in her being able to leave resulted in dawn raids on the houses of activists across Jobstown and in the trial of many of them for false imprisonment.

Burton remained in her car throughout the protest with people sitting in front of it. This verdict is a shocking undermining of any sort of right to effective protest, massively expanding the power of the state to criminalise almost all forms of resistance including those which many members of Burton’s Labour Party engaged in previously. 

The state is trying to send us the message that if we engage in effective protests, we face the possibility of a criminal conviction. Our answer to the state targetting any one of us must be to collectively back each other up by organising solidarity actions and further protests. An injury to one is an injury to all.

After the conviction the Jobstown Not Guilty campaign said

"The guilty verdict against a 17 year old protester for 'false imprisonment' of Joan Burton and her assistant is a gross miscarriage of justice and an outrageous assault on civil liberties and the right to protest. This young man has had this hanging over him for almost two years while he completed his Leaving Certificate and started college.

No evidence of false imprisonment was presented. Instead, he was found guilty on the basis of images of him attending a protest, leading a chant and holding a megaphone. This verdict represents the criminalisation of protest and sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It is, as his barrister argued in court, “a recipe for totalitarianism”. Any people who engage in sit-down protests or slow marching in future now face the threat of being convicted of false imprisonment.”

Ricky Tomlinson from the British TV comedy Royle Family send a solidarity letter to the protest which was read out (see video). Tomlinson  was jailed back in the 1970s as part of a building workers strike.  The text was as follow.

Brothers and Sisters,

40 years ago myself and Dessie Warren were sentenced to 2 years and 3 years in jail.

We were guilty for organising building workers; we were guilty for organising for better pay and for better health and safety; but most of all we were guilty of saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Working conditions on building sites were second only to coal mines for fatalities and serious injuries. Facilities were non existent, no toilets or wash basins. Pay was terrible £20 per week for a skilled worker and £17 for labourers, this for a 40 hour week.

Me and Dessie organised workers to strike, we organised workers for better pay and conditions and we won! But the bosses and the Tories came after us and used the law to punish us and to punish other building workers - but we stood strong

It is an absolute insult to find that a politician trapped in the comfort of (a) car is deemed to be in prison. As Jim Royle would say - "Imprisonment my arse!"

Dublin is a great city - Liverpool is a great city - but solidarity and unity of the working class is the most important.
I want to send greetings to the people of Jobstown for standing up against water charges - it is better to break the law than to break the poor.

You'll Never Walk Alone,