Last night the Imperial Hotel conference room in Cork City witnessed dozens of Cork residents standing in solidarity with Jobstown community and demanding justice for those arrested there during water charges protests in Ireland.
What Happened in Jobstown?
Two years ago, the introduction of domestic water charges bill ignited massive protests all over Ireland, and Jobstown (a suburb of Tallaght County in Ireland) that is mostly a working class community, was no exception to the rule. On 15th of November and during the heat of the protests Joan Burton former Tánaiste (deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Ireland), of the Labor Party paid a visit to Jobstown. This led to a growing sit down protest that allegedly stopped Ms. Burton from getting out of her car for a few hours. Gardaí (Irish police force) arrested some of the protesters, among them a teenager (15 at the time), who was found guilty of false imprisonment (a serious offense in Ireland). Other people arrested include TD (member of the lower house of Irish Parliament) Paul Murphy who might face a long prison sentence, if found guilty of false imprisonment in April.
Anti Austerity Alliance TD Mick Barry, Organizes a Cork Meeting in Support of Jobstown
The nearly two and a half hour meeting started after a few minutes of delay, with the arrival of key speakers : TD Paul Murphy, TD Mick Barry, and Ms. Kaye Keane , activist and an eye witness of the controversial Jobstown sit down protest.
Ms. Keane who was introduced by TD Barry, was the first speaker. “ I live in Jobstown, I lived there for many years, it is a good community ”, Ms. Keane started her speech with these words. Then she gave her account of the protest by claiming that guards pushed and mishandled protesters including women and children, and gave a specific account of them, mistreating TD Murphy.
She went as far as describing Ms. Burton as an “anti women” character, who sold out the labor party. She then paid tribute to one of the arrested people there, whom has passed away, and talked of him as a kindhearted, gentle man, whom Gardaí and the media has described as a “ big looking fellow”. She finished her speech by declaring her disgust for what is going on regarding the Jobstown water charges protest.
After Ms. Keane , TD Paul Murphy took the stage, and started his speech by describing the Jobstown protest as a peaceful one. He said that the arrested teenager’s only crime was that he was carrying a megaphone asking Ms. Burton to talk to protesters. He strongly denied any kidnapping or false imprisonment of Ms. Burton by the protesters.
He described the judge who handed down the guilty verdict to the 17 year old boy, as part of the establishment and the 1 percent, who does not care about the working class community of Jobstown. He said that introducing the water charges , which 73 percent of Irish people are not willing to pay, radicalized certain sections of people (mostly lower classes of society). He portrayed the situation as class injustice.
He described the arrested people as community heroes and victims, rather than criminals. He emphasized on the basic right to protest which is an essential part of democratic societies. TD Murphy ended his speech by demanding massive national demonstration all over Ireland.
People Raise Money and Make Their Voices Heard
After TD Barry encouraged people to chip in and help the cause, he gave the floor to meeting attendees to express their views. Most people, condemned Ms. Burton’s claims of false imprisonment and stress caused to her by the incident. One of the attendees jokingly described her as being falsely imprisoned by Gardaí , since dozens of them had surrounded her vehicle during the whole incident. Members of different parties and groups from Socialist party to People for Profit had participated in this event.
The meeting ended when attendees agreed upon the motto: “Justice for Jobstown, Drop the Charges”, to be printed on various leaflets and to be handed out to people, on Saturday October 29th, at Patrick Street, outside Penny’s store, at 1 o’clock. TD Barry described this activity as a trial one, depending on its success.
P.S: Since the massive anti water charges protests, the Irish Government has temporarily suspended the water charges bill.