Irish Republican News · March 9, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Anti water-charge protestors are released
Anti water-charge protestors are released

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The President of the High Court in Dublin has this afternoon directed the immediate release of four anti-water charges protesters over a technicality regarding the manner of their committal.

The four, Damien O’Neill of Coolock, Paul ‘Ollie’ Moore of Kilbarrack, Bernie Hughes from Finglas, and Derek Byrne from Donaghmede, were all immediately freed, to ecstatic cheering and applause.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett strongly welcomed the news. He also said the fact they were freed on a technicality did not overshadow their release.

“These people should never have been in prison”, he said. “This was about the state being too heavy-handed in order to deter people from engaging in peaceful protest.”

The four, including another whose sentence had been deferred for health reasons, had been found in contempt of court orders to stay away from the site of installation of water meters. All five received jail terms of between 28 and 56 days late last month.

Three of the five, Moore, Byrne and O’Neill, immediately launched a brief hunger strike over their detention and the manner in which they were held at Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin, some distance away from their families.

The judge this afternoon ruled their committal warrant was “lacking in a number of key respects”. The warrant was “the only justification” for the detention of the four, he said.

As a result of those errors, while they remain lawfully convicted and sentenced, the court will direct their immediate release, the judge said, provoking an eruption of applause..

The four had been brought to court earlier today under escort by about eight prison officers.

A defence lawyer had argued that the disputed order failed to show jurisdiction, failed to set out the basis of the alleged contempt and failed to set out the steps necessary to purge the contempt. On those and other grounds, the detention was wrong, he argued.

Speaking to Newstalk radio, Mr Boyd-Barrett said the imprisonment of the four had been a form of political policing.

Nonetheless, he said it was great that they were out “and I hope now we will see an absolutely massive protest on March 21st, which is the next big national Right2Water protest”.

© 2015 Irish Republican News