The long-running Jobstown trial of people accused of “false imprisonment” for sitting down in the road in front of a politician’s car and then walking slowly down the street is finally coming to a close. The verdict is expected on Monday 26th, so there’s a call for anyone who can make it to get down to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin then.
Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, a man who knows a thing or two about what real false imprisonment looks like, has made a video giving his support for the campaign:
A few highlights from the closing arguments, as summarised by the defence campaign: in the prosecution’s closing statement, they apparently referred to a vote taken by the protestors as “…not “a meeting like that in a literary society in Trinity College”, but “a betrayal of democracy”. It’s telling that the prosecution views democracy as something to be enjoyed by scholars in Trinity but not by ordinary people making decisions based on popular vote!
Continuing on from that, part of prosecution’s case against Scott Masterson is that he chanted “no way, we won’t pay”(So, participation in peaceful protest). They then went on to say that the slow march of Burton’s Garda jeep out of Tallaght portrayed by the prosecution as “just another form of confinement”.”
And from the defence’s closing statements: “The context of the Jobstown protest was a loss of confidence in “democracy”, the same as has happened internationally since austerity and the crash, where people all around the world are rejecting established politicians and the political system itself.
The economists’ language of austerity gives impression that what we have endured is just a “tightening of our belts” but what the poor and the working poor including in Jobstown have suffered is more properly described as a biblical form of “affliction”.
The defence then reminds the jury about the Labour Party’s election manifesto and its promise not to introduce water charges, the infamous ‘every little hurts’ Tesco ad and Gilmore’s promise of “Labour’s way, not Frankfurt’s way”. Eamonn Gilmore described the Tesco ad as “a decisive communications intervention”, but those who wrote it didn’t pay any attention to the specific promises in it, they literally didn’t know or care and failed to prevent any of those measures from being implemented, they abandoned them all during the negotiations for the Programme for Government in which Burton was a leading member. This speaks of “a deep pool of corrosive cynicism”.
The defence then goes on to say that the Jobtown protest was a spontaneous protest, which means no one was directing it. There’s been an attempt by the Gardaí to impose on a spontaneous event a particular legal perspective that isn’t justified.”