Right to Plunder the Economy, Not Right to Protest


This morning squads of Garda around Dublin mounted dawn raids on the houses of water charges protesters over a sit in 3 months ago in Jobstown. At the same time across the city bankers and other speculators named in the HSBC Geneva Private Bank leaks slept soundly in their beds knowing no one was going to be knocking down their door. If you want to understand the nature of power the contrast provides an excellent example.

The raids this morning were all about what the politicians' spin doctors like to call optics. Politicians, media and the Gardaí are on a drive to criminalise and marginalise those resisting the imposition of water charges. Sit ins and blockades have been part of political protest in Ireland for decades, the IFA routinely has far more militant protests.

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The entire purpose of this mornings exercise was to provide media headlines about the raids. As soon as they happened the Garda already had their pet journalist, Paul Williams, ready to spin the story on the 8am news bulletin. Why you should ask would you even use a crime correspondent to cover political repression? The reliance on the Garda for stories mean they are incapable of being critical of repressive police action.

The leaked HSBC Swiss bank files were seized by the French police in 2009. Buried away in the Business pages of the Irish Times you’ll find a report on then that describes how they were found to contain details of “arms dealers who sold munitions to African child soldiers, traffickers in blood diamonds, and associates of third world dictators.” Alongside them were a number of Irish clients. According to the ICIJ website there were 350 clients with links to Ireland in the files. Since 2010 quietly, and almost without mention in the media, 20 of the Irish clients have had to settle with revenue for 4.5 million. 3 have been quietly prosecuted. None had dawn raids on their houses by squads of Garda or prearranged coverage of such raids by Crime Correspondents all ready for the 8am new bulletin to shape the story.

Politicians, the Garda and the media could have decided to mount dawn raids in these cases. They could have decided that such an exercise would have sent a useful message to the capitalist class whose tax avoidance and evasion takes billions out of the economy every year. Except that the same class own the media and fund the politicians. So instead we had this morning's farce - squads of police mounting dawn raids on people who are accused of sitting front of a car three months back.

They hope these arrests will serve as part of their strategy to try and undermine water charge resistance by scaring ‘middle Ireland’ with talk of ‘anarchists & dissidents’. There's nothing like a few dawn raids to throw out the wrong impression. But the blatantly political nature of this morning's pantomime is likely to fool few.

Who politicians, media and the Garda choose to target exposes just how wrapped up power in Ireland is with the interests of a tiny narrow segment of the population, the richest 1% or even the 0.1%. That is, those with the wealth to make a Swiss bank account possible. Meanwhile the rest of us are taxed and taxed again to pay for the services we all need to access.