Republican News · Thursday 30 Novemeber 2000

[An Phoblacht]


On 28 March 2000 a group of eleven anti-racists occupied the Taoiseach's constituency office, in protest at proposed draconian measures against asylum seekers. The government was planning to introduce prison ships (so-called `flotels'), forcible fingerprinting and the introduction of police from abroad to catch people fleeing injustice in their own countries. Bertie Ahern had praised the Australian system of dealing with asylum seekers, where people are held in detention centres.

Although the protest was entirely peaceful, the eleven were arrested and two women were stripsearched in Fitzgibbon St. Garda Station. The eleven have since been charged under the Public Order Act and face the possibility of prison sentences. The use of such laws to clamp down on legitimate political protest in Ireland is a disturbing attack on civil liberties. Previously, trade unionists and other protestors have been threatened with similar sanctions. Occupations have been used by other groups as a form of protest many times in the past. For example, when members of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) occupied the offices of the EU Commission for ten days in July, the Taoiseach met with the IFA leadership on several occasions during the occupation and gave a `compensation package' costing 60m. It is clear that the Public Order Act is selectively applied.

The accused anti-racists are guilty of no crime. The real crime is the racism of the state. In recent years, the government has deported many people who have come to Ireland to escape political and economic persecution. Refugees have faced racist harassment from police and other state officials. Politicians have repeatedly tried to scapegoat refugees for social problems in an attempt to hide their own responsibility for the lack of investment in housing and social services.

Racism is the real crime: fighting against it is not a crime. We ask people to support the anti-racists, who are guilty of nothing but standing up to that crime.

``I support the eleven anti-racists charged in connection with the occupation of the Taoiseach's constituency office. I call for the charges against them to be dropped.''



Return to: Residents Against Racism, c/o Comhlamh, 10 Upper Camden St, Dublin 2

E-mail messages of support to:

Appeal issued by:

ti-Racism Campaign, Anti-Fascist Action, Residents Against Racism, Ógra Shinn Féin

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