Right2Water Galway will hold a protest outside Mill Street Garda Station today from 12 noon, against what it alleges is Government use of the courts and Gardaí "to attack legitimate protest against Government policies".
The protest also coincides with the court appearances today of the Jobstown and Crumlin anti-austerity and anti-water charges campaigners. Right2Water is calling on the public to join in in an "act of support and solidarity" with the Dublin campaigners.
"Taking these anti-austerity and anti-neoliberal protesters to court is a disgraceful act," said a Right2Water spokesperson. "The charges are farcical and are meant to install fear in people. The Government is directly attacking people exercising their democratic right to protest against Government policies. The Crumlin demonstrators were engaged in peaceful protest - not criminal activity. Political policing must stop!"
Allegations and accusations of political policing and State clamp-down on anti-water charges protesters have arisen in recent weeks. The Anti-Austerity Alliance last month stated it has been refused a permit for door to door collections in Galway. The reason give for the denial of such permits, by the Chief Superintendent at Galway Garda Station, was section 9 of the 1962 Street and House to House Collections Act.
The Act states a permit could be refused if money raised from such activity are to be used for "direct or indirect commission of an unlawful act" or that the proceeds would be used for personal profit. In response, Mr Burke said that since all election expenses and income have to be "rigorously accounted for", he believes it is "clear the refusal is based on the assumption of the committal of an unlawful act, presumably protesting against Governments TDs or encouraging the non-payment of water charges". Mr Burke alleged that this represents "a major fear by the establishment of the mass movement against the water charges".