A large number of Garda made arrests towards the end of a pro-choice rally in Dublin this evening. Three pro-choice campaigners were arrested, at least one of them was pepper sprayed when they were already on the ground.
The rally had been called as a solidarity protest against the prosecution of a mother in Belfast who supplied the abortion pill to her daughter. It was organised by Real-Productive Health and Workers Solidarity Movement. Around 200 people had gathered at short notice to protest opposite the GPO. Abortion is also illegal in the south, some who have abortions in Ireland can be jailed for up to 14 years under the law introduced by the current government.
The rally had just drawn to a close when Garda moved to arrest someone who was hanging a pro-choice banner off the roof of the GPO. Banners drop are a common occurrence on demonstrations in Dublin, we are not aware of ay recent ones leading to arrest and indeed its not clear what someone could be arrested for.
As the arrested person was being taken away two further arrests were made of people who had not been on the roof. One of these people was knocked to the ground and then pepper sprayed by Garda. When the Garda were given pepper spray they claimed it was needed to defend themselves against knife attacks but its use in political arrests has become very common, its simply being used as a punishment tool.
The video is shot shortly after this as one of the arrested people is being dragged into a squad car. With their hands handcuffed behind their back they fall to the ground,they are then shoved into the car as the Garda shove onlookers including our camera user. A couple of people in the crowd can be hard to shut about water charges, this is because Garda violence and arbitrary arrest has become a common experience of communities who resist water meters all across the country. Many of those attending the protest have also been involved in resisting the water charge.
In hindsight a disturbing feature of the arrests is the large number of Garda involved, including a couple of the secret police (‘Special Branch’), suggests this was pre planned attack on the pro-choice campaigners. At least one of them had been attacked and arrested by Garda at a previous pro-choice protest. We estimate there were at least 15 Garda present with 5 Garda cars (one unmarked), motorbikes and cycling units. Yet there had been no suggestion of trouble at the rally which consisted of speeches, chants and a photoshoot. The Garda attempt to determine who can and can not attend pro-choice protests should be resisted by the entire movement.
WORDS & VIDEO PRODUCTION: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )
----- WSM statement on events ----
The Workers Solidarity Movement strongly condemns the arrests at Wednesday evenings pro-choice demo in Dublin city centre. In particular we condemn the casual and unjustifiable use of pepper spray on pro choice protesters, one of whom was being held immobile on the ground as he was sprayed.
Our demonstration was called to protest the arrest in Belfast of a woman who has been charged with assisting her daughter in obtaining an abortion. A sizeable crowd gathered to offer solidarity to her and to the many other women living in Ireland who suffer under draconian abortion laws.
Those arrested are known to us a dedicated pro-choice campaigners. It is our democratic right and duty to take an active part in the society that we live in. Such garda behaviour has no place in a democratic society. An injustice to one, is an injustice to all.