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Former Labour mayors under Special Branch surveillance at commemoration

category sligo | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Sunday April 19, 2009 20:54author by Allen Report this post to the editors

The presence of plainclothes Gardai in an unmarked car in the vicinity of a 1916 Commemoration in Sligo where two former Labour Party Mayors, Cllr. Declan Bree (Sligo Borough Council) & Cllr. Catherine Connolly (Galway City Council), held a ceremony has been described as "sinister and disturbing."

"Those involved in normal legitimate political activity must have a right to participate in meetings and events without being placed under surveillance by the Special Branch," Cllr Declan Bree, former Labour Party TD. He claimed they were sent to "watch and observe the political activities of those of us who are critical of the government and the bankers."

While such events have been monitored by Gardai before, Clr. Bree said it had been at least ten years since they turned up at a Connolly Forum commemoration.

"All of us are aware that there is growing sense of betrayal in the country with the fact that public money is now being used to bail out the bankers and the property speculators.

"We have all witnessed the establishment politicians and these same bankers and speculators shedding their responsibilities regarding the massive debts and placing them firmly on the back of the ordinary PAYE taxpayer.

“As more and more workers are laid off, the ‘golden circle’ have circled the wagons to ensure that their wealth is protected. Not one of these people have been investigated. Few if any questions have been asked and all is sweetness and light for the bankers and developers who have accumulated massive profits at the expense of the ordinary people of this country. They have not been placed under surveillance, they have nothing to fear.” said Clr Bree.

He said it now appeared that the political establishment was targeting those who had questioned and criticised the behaviour of the speculators who had brought “this country to its knees.”

“If you criticise the bankers you can be accused of subversive activity or if you criticise attempts to hand over taxpayer’s money to developers you can be accused of bullying.

“We have read in the national media that the Garda and Army have been refreshing their riot-control skills in recent times and now we have this sinister move to detail Special Branch officers to watch and observe the political activities of those of us who are critical of the government and the bankers.

“In this context those of us on the Left, in the labour and trade union movement have reason to be concerned about the mind-set of the establishment politicians and it is of vital importance as we challenge that same establishment that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that democratic rights and civil liberties are upheld and maintained,” said Cllr Bree

author by kuntpublication date Thu Apr 23, 2009 19:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd imagine that this type of surveillance at political events happens a lot more often than people realise- it's not surprising is it? it's only sinister when it's noticable - these guards might not understand the meaning of "covert" or perhaps they just gave up trying?
given that there was probably more than just two people at the commemoration they couldve been there to look out for anyone.

author by paulinepublication date Tue Apr 21, 2009 22:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maybe they were looking for Reds under the Bed.Cake Scanlon the independent candidate in the North Ward was also present,hes a former labour party county councillor and most recently a general election candidate for the Greens.Most definately a major threat to national security.

author by johnopublication date Mon Apr 20, 2009 21:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't believe that the Gardai are now intimiating elected officials!

I know Bree is a republican but he's hardly a threat to the state. even in his hayday he might have been vocal but he was never a supporter of the provos or republican SF.

Between the criminal bankers and the criminal gangs destroying our society and communities and the state targets socialist remembering those who died so the state could exist.....

author by Diarmuid - Nonepublication date Mon Apr 20, 2009 18:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's not always about surveillance but often about intimidation as in: "Look, we're watching you". Recently an organiser of a Palestinian protest outside the Israeli Embassy was asked her name and another of a Basque protest was also asked his name. Special Branch were seen also at the Save Moore Street gathering yesterday (Sunday). They have been a regular feature at pickets organised by 'dissident' Republican groups where they not only hang around but go up to each individual to ask their name and address. They did the same last year at a protest organised by anarchists at the Spanish Embassy (reported by anarchists in Indymedia). They sometimes follow up with a call to the house, employer or place of study of the individual in order to hammer home the intimidation. The quoted authority for their actions has been either the Public Order Act or the Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act, neither piece of repressive legislation which they can demonstrate as being applicable to a peaceful picket.
This has been going on for years and I have not known Liberty (ex-National Council for Civil Liberties) do anything about it nor even to answer correspondence about it. Now happening to Labour politicians also? What is the world coming to!
A lesson there -- them today, us tomorrow and you the day after. It might be useful to put some pressure on such organisations as Liberty and ask questions in the Dáil, in order to cramp their style a bit. But ultimately the capitalist state will always protect itself with surveillance of what it sees as its enemies and the new powers the state is giving itself in the news last week are further steps towards repression (again in the face of shameful capitulation by Liberty).

author by mbpublication date Mon Apr 20, 2009 15:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not sure that you and Declan are getting it right ,old codger . In my view this is not coming from Fianna Fail ,but from the state itself - after consulting with the man who sees himself as the Taoiseach-in-waiting.

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Mon Apr 20, 2009 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Paul Williams is a close associate of the gaurdai, As part of a program to praise the retired head of the Criminal Assets beaurough , he stated that the Irish government had more controll over the police force than any other EU country and that they ordered the gaurds who to investigate or not to investigate. It will be in the RTE archives , they may reveal it on enquiry because they are also controlled by FIanna Fail.
I think Declan is astute enough to know what is going on in our undemocratic country.

author by patpublication date Mon Apr 20, 2009 13:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When they are crying out Gardai to tackle real crime and anti-social behavior throughout our communities this is how they spend their resources. Sunday bank holiday weekend, image the overtime costs?

This must have been authorized at high level, Minister for Justice, can't image this is a priority for local Gardai.

Also, are there councilors on the local policing forums by any chance?

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