Protest, like freedom of expression and activism, is a fundamental part of our democracy. When the right to free assembly is respected, dissenting voices can be heard. A different path can be suggested.
Where freedom of assembly and protest are threatened – dissenting voices are silenced.
ICCL vigourously defends the right to protest.
Our work protecting protest
In 2018, when police in balaclavas were violent towards housing rights activists who were peacefully occupying a vacant building, we were quick to call out their actions. We followed up when the Minister for Justice suggested that he would outlaw the recording of Gardai on duty. These actions garnered a response from the Garda Commissioner.
In June 2019, we carried out a National Consultation with protesters. We were pretty appalled by what we heard from some of them regarding their rights. Full report here.
Under human rights law, the right to protest may only be interfered with in specific circumstances, including in order to protect the rights and freedoms of others. Protecting the right to access healthcare and the right to privacy can be considered legitimate grounds for interfering with the right to protest, as long as the measures taken are necessary, proportionate and provided for by law.
Existing provisions in Irish law for responding to protestors using intimidation and harassment do not provide adequate protection for individuals seeking to access abortion services because they rely on the discretionary use of powers by Gardaí. For this reason, ICCL has been calling for exclusion zones around clinics where abortion healthcare is provided.