Thomas Cook workers freed after sit-in

Protesters who staged a five-day sit-in at a Thomas Cook branch were freed today after being arrested for contempt of court.

Protesters who staged a five-day sit-in at a Thomas Cook branch were freed today after being arrested for contempt of court.

Today at the High Court Mr Justice Michael Peart ordered that group of workers, along with officials of their Union the Transport Salaried Staff's Association and three supporters Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett, Cllr Matthew Waine of the Socialist Party and Sara O'Rourke a volunteer the People before Profit organisation be released from custody.

They occupied the Dublin store defying a High Court judge after company bosses closed the company’s two outlets last Friday.

The 16 former staff and their supporters were released after they agreed to obey an earlier court order and stay away from the Grafton Street shop.

The judge said that while the breach of the order was unlawful, given the undertakings the court received he decided it was not necessary to commit anyone to prison or to impose a fine.

Their protest came to a sudden end when scores of gardaí launched a dawn operation, arresting everyone in the shop except a heavily pregnant woman who was taken to hospital and gave birth six hours later.

Avril Boyne was nursing a healthy baby girl, Chelsea, as her partner Ian Mahon was freed.

He had gone to the Thomas Cook store just before the garda operation was launched out of concern for his wife and found himself caught up in the row and in custody.

He was allowed to visit the new mother in hospital ahead of the court hearing.

The High Court was told all defendants had given an undertaking that they would abide by an original order to stay away from the premises and would not trespass again. They also undertook not to repeat any act of disobedience.

As the hearing went ahead with a massive garda presence, at least 300 union activists remained outside chanting for workers’ rights, at one stage forcing court staff to close windows to avoid disruption.

At least 20 gardaí attended the packed courtroom, with scores more around the huge complex.

Barrister Mark Connaughton, senior counsel for Thomas Cook, told the court: “It would be churlish not to acknowledge the people have now purged their contempt.”

More in this section