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All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Good Court Outcome for Activists
14th February 2002
The District Court cases of 8 anti-racism activists concluded in Dublin today. Earlier in the week the cases against 3 activists were dismissed. On Tuesday 3 other activists were convicted and legal doubts surrounded the identities of the remaining 5.
Today the court was considering a submission from the defence solicitor regarding the fact that the Guards wrongly identified 5 activists in the court last Tuesday. The solicitor felt that the case should be brought to the High Court, for it to consider the legality of Judge Leonard's decision that the identifications were satisfactory. The judge did not believe that her ruling was wrong. A long argument ensued, the result of which was that the judge decided to proceed with the cases but allowed for an appeal to be made to a higher court, if that was the route the defendants wished to take.
The defence solicitor made the point that two of the defendants work in the childcare area and that having a conviction recorded against them could possibly damage their future careers.
Judge Leonard then proceeded to give her summing up and sentences. She admitted< that all those before the court were people of good standing and the evidence showed that none had warrants outstanding against them. They were persons of conviction, but it been proved that they had broken the law and she had to deal with all in the same way. They had a right to protest and may not have known at the outset that they were entering the Taoiseach's private apartments. However this had been made clear to them. They had held their protest and got publicity on the day. However there were security implications to their presence in the Taoiseach's apartments and the defendants had made a conscious decision to disobey the direction of a Garda. Evidence had been heard from a witness (Bertie's secretary) of the distress she had suffered on the day. Other than this there was no evidence the defendants had been badly behaved and they had done no damage. However the defendants had been made aware they were committing an offence and had been given an opportunity to leave and did not do so. As a result they had been arrested and were now before the courts.
She then sentenced each of the 8 defendants under Section 1.1 of the Probation Act. They were bound to keep the peace for a period of 24 months on their own bond of 600 Euro. In the event that they broke this bond they would be brought back to court and would be sentenced on the original offence, as well as forfeiting their 600 Euro. All the activists who live outside of the Taoiseach's constituency were also bound not to go near the office (161 Drumcondra Road). The four people living within the constituency were told that they could only got to the office if it was by appointment.
Overall the activists are happy with this outcome. They do not have a criminal conviction and no fines are to be paid. They do not have to put up the 600 Euro each (will only be charged if bond is broken). No consideration has been given yet to whether to appeal, but general consensus was there was little point in doing this and it would only lead to further legal costs.
The 11 activists involved would like to thank all of those groups and individuals who supported our various protests, fundraisers, etc. over the past two years. We also wish the best of luck to other political activists whose cases on similar public order charges are being heard in the coming months.
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