Members of the Garda Riot Squad (Public Order Unit), during the National Emergency Service Parade in Dublin City Centre last September
Today we present serious & urgent concerns regarding the right to protest in Ireland. It’s clear to us that there is a wide gap between the position of the Garda with regard to protecting this right, and the experience of many groups. #ProtestIsYourRighthttps://t.co/v8Dip1aIV6
— ICCLtweet (@ICCLtweet) June 26, 2019
Via The Irish Council For Civil Liberties
ICCL travelled to Cork, Ennis and Dublin between 19 and 22 June to meet with environmental activists, anti-war protesters, anti-eviction groups, and activists living in Direct Provision. We also met with representatives of An Garda Síochána and relevant oversight bodies.
…We received reports of garda misuse of the Public Order Act (through arresting protesters and later dropping charges), of garda intimidation of protesters (through photography, following cars, harassment, and stop-and-search), of serious deficiencies in GSOC handling of complaints, and of gardaí imposing limits on where people can protest without a clear basis in law.
International standards state that sit-ins and meetings are protected by the right to protest and may extend to private spaces accessible to the public.
However, we heard a number of serious specific issues around protests at or near privately owned land – including during evictions and at Direct Provision centres.
We received reports that gardaí themeslves are evicting protesters from squats when media are not present. Protesters have also been arrested from public spaces such as city councils.
We received reports that gardaí have subjected those arrested at protests to treatment that interferes with their right to dignity, including psychological trauma, strip-searching and being forced to squat and cough.
Arrested protesters have allegedly been encouraged to give statements without lawyers present, and in some cases even denied access to their lawyers.
We are extremely concerned that the rights to assembly, to free expression and to free association are being curtailed by private operators of Direct Provision centres, allegedly with the support of An Garda Síochána.
Residents informed us that their meetings have been labelled “illegal”, that people have been escorted in handcuffs to public spaces where they are “allowed” to protest, and that food and benefits have been withheld in response to protests.