26 June 2019
ICCL travelled to Cork, Ennis and Dublin between 19 and 22 June to meet with environmental activists, anti-war protesters, anti-eviction groups, and activists living in Direct Provision. We had individual meetings with some groups and we also met with representatives of An Garda Síochána and relevant oversight bodies.
It is clear to ICCL that there is a wide gap between the stated position of the Garda with regard to protecting the rights to protest, and the experiences of many of the groups involved in organising a wide range of demonstrations and protests. The lack of clear and transparent information about police policy and training, and the lack of public data about the use of legal powers and the use of force present serious weaknesses in the Irish approach to managing protests.
The salient point for us has been that, while the government and An Garda Síochána are supportive of large protests taking place on the main thoroughfares of Ireland, when it comes to protesters living on the margins of society or protesting outside of the media spotlight, the garda and state response can be much more heavy-handed.