After months of shrill meltdown that included protests likened to ISIS, Hitler and harbinger of the total collapse of civilisation, all the regime has to show for itself so far is a child in prison. Even then, his crimes amount to unrelated serial delinquency but the judge has decided to recast and punish his actions as politically motivated, after the fact. An “attack on the state” no less, so the state is moved to protect itself from a sixteen year old boy.
During sentencing the court heard comments from the bench suggesting a supposed gendered nature to the protester’s actions. It would be laughable if not so insulting and we don’t need to waste much time here dismissing these insinuations. All government politicians spent the last five years lamenting the terrible welcome they faced from ungrateful public. Phil Hogan spent most of his time as Environment Minister unable to appear in public without being greeted by a protest. Enda Kenny being booed in Cork was a favourite of mine.
The judge’s remarks however do bear remarkable resemblance to a line almost immediately pushed by Joan Burton and the trite bad faith of some of her more opportunistic supporters. We shall see how things progress from here.
Code named ‘Operation Mizen’ the gardaí have little to show for months of surveillance given all the subversives loudly and repeatedly alleged to be infiltrating and directing the entire movement. Think of the utter shit talk from the Dáil and media during that time. Months of hysterical and equally calculated accusations. All smears, all lies. Terrorists, anarchists, Bolsheviks with the help of your neighbours were at the point of tearing down the state if you were to believe the vast majority of comment but so far, a single teenager has emerged as the menace needing to be banished from society. You will recall much dark muttering about the protests “being hijacked” and at here last the culprit is revealed. A boy of fifteen who masterminded the whole thing by not even being involved in the protests.
In November 2014, senior gardaí planted an entirely false story that water protesters were assaulting three members each day. This would have involved an enormous amount of serious illegality resulting in dozen of prosecutions of actual water protesters but instead here we are with one kid jailed for refusing to cooperate with probation services.
Remember this? When some enterprising journalist at the Irish Independent decided to ludicrously place a photo of Joan Burton in the path of a flying brick despite the fact she had left Tallaght hours before. That was one of the more egregious examples but almost without exception across the entire media, journalists, politicians and commentators were given unfettered opportunity to attack and defame a movement of ordinary people. Today the headlines say ‘boy jailed over Jobstown protest’ while the Irish Times in giddy exception informs us that he is ‘the first’.
Despite this though, none of the media seem to discuss what his protest was. He was not there that day or any other in opposition to water charges. Is too much or too inconvenient to ask what motivates a teenager to jump on a garda car?
It would be a pleasing to imagine him cheering slogans about Denis O’Brien’s role in the ever narrowing distribution of wealth and resources from on top a policeman’s bonnet but no paper reports him doing so. It is quite unlikely, as the judge seems to suggest, that the young man got out of bed that morning to “attack the elected Tanaiste of Ireland”. In any case, an un-‘politicised’ kid took the opportunity to challenge authority in a way that could only end badly for himself but few will ask what this means.
According to Judge O’Connor the boy had other issues including “negative peers, anti-social incidents, involvement with pro-criminal gangs, drug issues” and more worryingly “had been hospitalised 14 times in the last two years with serious injuries”. A child with “significant emotional and behavioural difficulties”. So prison then will provide the help and support he clearly needs.
His sentencing comes some fifteen months after gardaí decided it was necessary to arrest him and twenty six others at their homes at dawn. Six guards they sent to Paul Murphy’s door. Such a risk that he may not see the inside of courtroom till April 2017. Six police at six in the morning to apprehend someone so dangerous that he will still walk the streets and corridors of parliament for thirty months after the events itself.
The whole thing was taken completely out of proportion it seems, for reasons the regime are reluctant to acknowledge. That Sunday Independent front page screamed ‘Attack On Democracy’ all for nothing. Such lofty ideals are harder find now that we have an anti-water charges majority in Dáil Éireann.
But speaking of delays and the law, it has also been ten months since a company called RPS, run by several individuals who went on to become senior staff at Irish Water, were found by the High Court to have secretly and illegally manipulated records relating to the Poolbeg incinerator.
Dublin City Council, then headed by recently departed Irish Water chief executive John Tierney, had paid RPS more than €30 million for its ‘services’. A contract itself that the European Commission also found did not conform with EU law.
Elizabeth Arnett who was in charge of public relations at RPS moved seamlessly to spin doctor for Irish Water. Her performance can probably be best summed up by the company being dead and despised by even those who support it and to think people spend their days saying Luas workers should be sacked!
Her salary remains in the realm of corporate confidentially but after three years in the job, it is probably safe to assume the price of failure was multiples of Paul Murphy’s impending legal aid. Hopefully we can start to think about these things whenever they are finished prosecuting children, who weren’t even water protesters to begin with.