A senior garda has reminded Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy that previous water protests involving his party resulted in public order arrests, including of party members, as they were refused a collection permit.
Chief Superintendent Orla McPartlin said she expected further offences would be committed if there were any future AAA demonstrations.
The divisional officer for Dublin South made the comments in a letter to Mr Murphy in which she reaffirmed her decision not to grant a collection permit to the AAA, stating that she believed the proceeds would be used to encourage an unlawful act.
Mr Murphy said the letter, sent in response to the AAA querying her decision, was “confirmation in black and white of political policing”.
He said the decision had denied the AAA “the right to function as other political parties”.
“The justification for this is because people have been arrested in relation to previous protests. This is undoubtedly a reference to the Jobstown protest in November of last year. While people were arrested for questioning, there have still been no charges brought and most crucially, nobody has been convicted of anything. What has happened to the presumption of innocence here?” he said.
In her letter, Chief Supt McPartlin said that under the Street & House to House Collection Act 1962 a divisional officer is “prohibited” from issuing a permit where he or she is of the opinion the proceeds will encouragean unlawful act.
She added: “Previous protests in my division, as participated in by the Anti-Austerity Alliance, have resulted in persons being arrested for public order offences and indeed some of those arrested persons were Anti-Austerity Alliance personnel. The collection permit has been refused because I believe that the proceeds of the collection or a portion thereof would be used to facilitate protests sponsored by the Anti?Austerity Alliance. I believe any further protests within my divisIon would see further public order offences being committed.”
Mr Murphy said the AAA would be lodging an appeal in the district court in the coming days.
GRA general secretary PJ Stone said his association had always “campaigned vociferously” against political interference in policing:
“There is no evidence to suggest that any aspect of this investigation was subject to political interference. Yet, once again, politicians are quick to use policing as a tool of political communication; thrusting it into partisan politics.”
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