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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 12, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    Last night’s skirmish at Leinster House

    Harry McGee

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    I had to laugh when I listened to Richard Boyd-Barrett on Morning Ireland when he tried to imply that the small group of protesters who tried to force their way into Leinster House’s plinth last night did so innocently.

    Whatever their motives – and whether you feel they were right or wrong in doing so –  they knew what they were doing.

    My own personal view. They were wrong. Full stop. The Oireachtas is the location for our democratic institutions. Once you get a crowd attempting to occupy it, it constitutes an attack on our democratic institutions, mob rule replacing the rule of law and the principles of democracy.

    No matter how angry you are about the cutbacks, there are limits to the protests. The small crowd who surged forward trying to force their way to the gate crossed a line that was physical and also metaphorical. They had no right to do that.

    If you look at the clip above, you will see that there were seven or eight gardai on duty at the time that the crowd surged forward. They would have been unable to resist the crowd simply by locking arms, there were too many people trying to press forward.

    I didn’t see the scuffles and am not in a position to judge whether there was excess on either side.

    But the net point I’m making is faced with the sheer size of the crowd that was trying to force its way in and its surge  - and entrusted with protecting our democratic institutions from incursions like that – the gardai had no choice but to draw their batons.

    Richard Boyd-Barrett gave a great speech last night by the way. But he can’t be talking out of both sides of his mouth. Either can Sinn Fein. They have four TDs and one Senator within Leinster House. They either agree to uphold its institutions or they don’t. Simple as that. They can’t run with the hare and chase with the hounds.

    • dealga says:

      This is why there will never be any strong, principled, grassroots opposition to the cute hoors that have ruined the country – because any attempt at intelligent meaningful protest will be hijacked by a motley crew of populist morons, anti-everything Dave Sparts, dumbass kids in Che Guevera t-shirts and scumbags.

    • James McCann says:

      Totally agree, it was a disgraceful show from PBP, Sinn Fein and other left wing groups (although I acknowledge the majority who were there on peaceful protest). The Gardai are directed to protect all state institutions and those 8 Gardai last night done the right thing in preventing those thugs from getting inside the Dail. They talked about wanting to stage a peaceful protest inside the Dail, well they had their chance outside and that was beyond them, if you want to speak inside the Dail then get elected and if you want to spark a revolution well you’ll need more than 500 and 100 thugs.

    • Shane Fitzgerald says:

      Vincent Browne said on the radio earlier that Labour were there too. Make sure to include that.

    • mautice wright says:

      While it is an important part of our democratic right to protest and vent our anger at government proposals we do not like – this kind of skuffle just sickens me. What do these people hope to achieve? It is counter productive in the extreme. Clearly they want action but why can’t they examine the problems facing the country in an intelligent way and present their proposals to the government on how these difficulties might be dealt with differently/better? The whole world was shocked and disgusted at what happened in Greece last week, I hope we don’t sink to those lows – it won’t do any of us any good.

    • People with nothing better to do and from the comfort of not having to worry about paying their bills and feeding themselves playing at revolution. I think it is bonkers but not unexpected that middle class kids like RBB get to play at representing the “workers” when most people from working class backgrounds myself included have always been more interested in the practicalities of earning a living and taking care of our loved ones.

    • Shane Fitzgerald says:

      I left a comment a few hours ago, I’m not sure if it wen’t through. Went something like;

      “Vincent Browne said during an interview on Radio 1 this morning that Labour were also present and are seeking recognition. I hope you include that.”

    • kynos says:

      This is only the beginning. Years upon years we’ve been predicting this would come. When you have a howling moral vaccum at the heart of your politics and society. Something’s going to fill it. Nature hates a vaccum. The tragedy is that all this need not have been, nor all that is to come.

    • kynos says:

      Been saying it here since 2003. Fianna Fail can nod and wink at Ireland’s participation in illegal war and the torture of innocents. They established that definitively in March 2003. Of course they could not and wink at anything else. As we now see all around us.

    • Liam says:

      I dont know which is worse, mob rule or being ruled by the mob. Its depressing that these events are organised by a rag tag of leftie crusty types led by the Champaign socialists like Boyd-Barrett btw I went to the same D4 private school as he did. lol

      also whats Vincent Browne doing giving airtime to these fools

    • dealga says:

      Fairly pathetic beginning Kynos. Stillborn.

    • dealga says:

      Liam, have you read Vincent Browne anytime recently?! The man advocates a massive transfer of wealth from the middle/professional classes to, what he considers, the disadvantaged. In Vinnie’s world view having any disposable income is a sign of inequality and it should be appropriated for the greater good. Of course he’s going to give airtime to these simpletons.

    • minnie says:

      Absolutely agree with Harry. Revolting (sorry) behaviour and language. And I imagine Agents Provocateurs Extraordinaires, Messieurs Vincent Browne and Fintan O’Toole will be quietly smirking in their ivory towers.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Oh dear were some nice middle class boys and girls frightened by the site of the ‘working class’ getting angry at the corruption and failures of that same middle class of priviledge. I don’t suppose Harry that you or your family, or those in your social circle, have ever been touched by the sort of social deprevation that leads to a community fighting a crime and drug epidemic and all the social consequences that arise from that reflected in the mammoth effort that a person born into that sort of community faces to get out of it and break the cycle.

      So it’s not a surprise that those with connections who have been able to get on in life without having to first of all rise above the barriers placed in their way due to policies deliberately enforced, for the very action of keeping a certain section of people ‘in their place’ would now express shock, and dare I say it even a judgemental sneer, at those whose frustration turned to some mild physical fraction – it was hardly the storming of the Bastille.

      Those in Leinster House, amonf them cosseted jounralists too, are of course shocked that the peasants might have it in them to actually stand up for themselves – it was assuming the elites could just dish out whatever punishment was needed to protect the priviledged class and there’d be no payback.

      I’m part of that priviledged class too but I’m quite glad to see not every section of Irish society is willing to just lie down and accept unjust and unfair burdens to protect the priviledges others. I’m happy to pay more tax and even accept a lower standard of living – I don’t need a flash car every year or 3 or 4 holidays or all the apparent trappings of a middle class lifestyle, if it means some of the effort that would go to acquite those items is redirected into more taxes from me to help those less well off.

      Hopefully the expression of some anger might serve to focus some minds that there is a point when enough is enough and we won’t know when we reach it until it’s too late and perhaps who ever ends up strung up from a tree had it coming and expressing some anger allows people to move on the next stage which is getting rid of all those – in the private and public sector – who caused this mess Ireland is in.

    • XXfactor says:

      @ I don’t know what private ‘skool’ you went to but you should ask for your money back. You should ask for Is there a National dyslexia problem amongst Irish men?

    • XXfactor says:

      @ I don’t know which private ‘skool’ you went to but you should ask for your money back. You should ask for Is there a National dyslexia problem amongst Irish men?

    • Ray D says:

      this was inevitable – the street protest not the mickey mouse squabble that took place – given the way people are being screwed by a Government without any mandate for its policies. These wseek only to protect the accumulated personal wealth of bankers, developers and othe cronies. Such protests should escalate until the Government stands down and policies are put before the people. The people had no say whatsoever in the policies being followed now. These policies are completely wrong and have made matters worse not better.

    • pr says:

      well what about the ones inside the so called democratic institutions infringing on the rights of the individual. & hiding behind dail privilage. Misleading information about europe, giving taxpayers money to gangsters, robbing the monies from the salaries of the workers. cheating on expenses, giving jobs without advertising to their cronies. it takes courage to demsontrate, ones beliefs and principles. I support non violent demonstrations.

    • kynos says:

      Like I said on Jim Carroll’s blog sometimes it’s all you can do to make yourself feel like you’ve at least stood up and been counted well I didn’t but kind of meant the same thing what I did say. Perhaps they had no intention at all per se. Did the Mob have any intention of burning Rome or murdering each other randomly when they went to the Games and were disappointed? Did their vengeful fury find satiation in just sheer destroying-samadhi? Clearly it did because at some stage they all just gave up and went home if indeed they’d any homes to go to. And Caesar emerged in his palace from the secret tunnel that led from the Arena to the Capitoline or wherever his palace was, wiped his face of sweat, et some peeled grapes and ordered the Praetorian to get mediev…to get down and dirty on somebody. Or his Senators or Praetors or Proctors or what have you. Nothing new under the sun.

    • Liam says:

      @ kynos Nothing new under the sun……


      “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

      Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

    • baNAMA republic says:

      An attack on our democratic institutions, eh? I would think the banks bleeding the public purse dry, the likes of Fingers and Seanie and the rest of the tainted ff insiders constitute more of an attack on our democracy. I guess that most of the tut, tutters at this minor skirmish would, back in 1916 been equally horrified by a rabble fighting for our independence. We are Irish, we are not Greeks, we bow down and doff the cap to our betters. Thanking you sir, sorry to be of any bother, please excuse the behaviour of my misguided brother for not knowing his place. The fighting Irish? More like the frightened Irish.

    • dealga says:

      Des, do you think those jumped up Trots being repelled by 8 Guards with truncheons weren’t nice middle class boys and girls?! You should join one of those marches I think…

    • madtexan says:

      The majority of comments on here remind me of hearing about the treatment of the members of the Easter uprising as they were marched through the crowds of Dublin after their surrrender. People evidentally poured pisspots over their heads. It seems strange as a foreignor in this country that when people actually stand up and do something to make Irish society better that there is always a crowd going “boo” and acting against their own interest.
      As a foreignor it’s something I have yet to get my head around. The “storming of the Dail” gave me some hope that Irish people have it in them to do something about the atrocities that are being carried out against them by an underworked, overpriviledged and overpaid elite political and capitalist class.
      The workers are the the people that create the wealth in this country (both foreignors and locals alike) and yet they are having it stolen from them by this goverment whose supposed democratic mandate expired a few years ago.
      That they dared to push back peacefully but with direct action against the very people that are violently attacking their livelyhoods to make a few stupidly rich seems to have made a few people at the top very angry (and seemingly a little scared). That is a good thing. I think that means they are doing something right.
      The Dail is our Dail..the workers paid for it and the people in it are our employees. We have every right to make them answerable to us.

    • XXfactor says:

      I was sure I posted a comment on this topic before I set off about my daily toil morning…Oh well I’ll just have to send it again…it went something like this…
      To coin a phrase, rapidly going out of currency ‘I agree with’…Des and pr…
      Re me @ 14 & 15…phew! no one seems to have noticed…think I’ve got away with that one…!

    • Leveller on the Liffey says:

      Wasn’t Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times involved too (as a speaker) but no blame there?!!!

      Sinn Féin were there (as were Patients Together and other groups) but they were not, to my knowledge, involved in the attempted occupation – Richard Boyd-Barrett’s SWP were.

    • XXfactor says:

      To (mis)quote GBS…’If you see an Irishman on a spit there’ll be another to turn him’…The Irish are very individualistic the old ‘Famine mentality’ I call it…that’s why they did not prosper to the same extent in the UK as some other Immigrants… So to coin a phrase rapidly losing currency ,I NOW agree with Des (perish the thought) pr AND especially madtex…Maybe now the RCC has lost it’s stranglehold on the population they will Rise Up ‘they have nothing to lose but their Chains’ What’s wrong with a little Civil disobedience or Trots for that matter…? Seems I’m still getting away with it at 14&15…Shhhh

    • dealga says:

      Madtexan, you, like others, fall into the trap of believing that the student radicals and attention seeking troublemakers of the likes of the SWP (groups that are incapable of rationalising their ideology beyond tired old cliche and economic illiteracy) represent anyone at all.

      Of course they do not represent anybody but themselves and a few naïfs of similar ilk. They completely reject the democratic process as being flawed for the sole reason that they themselves are utterly rejected by the overwhelming majority of the people they pretend to be campaigning for.

    • XXfactor says:

      @25 Sez you…’sexitonI !?

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