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