Sunday 4 December 2016

Dublin Deputy Lord Mayor cleared of charges following protest

Cieran Perry says case was brought as a result of 'political policing'

Tom Tuite

Published 07/04/2016 | 15:08

Councillor Cieran Perry
Councillor Cieran Perry

DUBLIN'S Deputy Lord Mayor Cieran Perry has been cleared of public order charges arising out of his arrest during a protest in support of striking workers.

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The independent councillor, who could have faced jail, claims his trial was a result of “political policing”. After his acquittal today he blasted the decision to prosecute him as a “complete waste of Garda and court resources”.

Cllr Perry, a Trinity College computer technician and a Unite shop steward, had been arrested during an industrial relations protest against wage cuts imposed on workers at Dublin waste firm Greyhound, and the company's use of temporary staff while employees were on strike.

The councillor, who represents the Cabra Finglas ward, faced charges for failing to comply with a garda's direction to leave the vicinity and interrupting the passage of vehicles, at Killala Road, in Cabra, in Dublin, on September 2, 2014.

The offences can result in fines and a possible six-month jail term.

He faced trial before Dublin District Court and defended himself in the hearing during which two witnesses disputed prosecution claims that Gardai gave a caution to the protesters. The court heard he was arrested within minutes and was brought to Finglas garda station.

Dismissing the case, Judge Miriam Walsh said the prosecution failed to meet the burden of proof.

One other man was arrested during protest but did not face court prosecution and was dealt with through the Garda adult cautioning scheme.

After his court win, Independent councillor Perry said: “Today's verdict is a vindication of my claims of political policing. I don't believe it was a coincidence that I was charged during the same period where 23 people from Tallaght, 11 from Crumlin and numerous individual activists were also charged with various offences. In my opinion there was clearly a directive from senior Garda management or Government that political activists were to be targeted. My own victory and that of the community activists from the Crumlin 11 campaign shows how spurious these charges have been.”

Cllr Perry said: “I was shocked to be arrested and handcuffed for participating in a peaceful local protest in support of the locked out Greyhound workers. I was particularly incensed that I was arrested under the Public Order Act given that we were engaged in an industrial relations protest. As a local councillor I have had numerous complaints about the lack of Garda resources but there doesn't appear to be any shortage of gardai when they are called to act politically. On many occasions I have called for the Public Order Act to be used local to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug dealing but resources never appear to be available."

“I believe the case against me was complete was of Garda and court resources. The political policing aspect of the case has been exposed. In their desperation to bully and intimidate political activists such as myself as a warning to others, the Garda were willing to rely on a very minor charge from an incident over a year prior to being charged,” he said.

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