Dublin Grassroots Network, the group organising the "Bring the Noise" march to Farmleigh House at 6 pm on Saturday evening, has condemned Garda measures announced yesterday evening which amount to the banning of the march. They have called on everyone with an interest in civil liberties to gather at the GPO instead at the same time for a meeting to protest the ban.
Spokesperson Dr Laurence Cox said, "What we have been told is that demonstrators will be prevented from congregating and that the riot squad will be waiting at Parkgate Street. In other words, anyone who turned up at the meeting point would be in serious danger. We also understand that protestors will be prevented from marching down the South Quays, and that those who do will be "pushed into side streets"."
The measures were announced on Prime Time last night and were not denied by Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche. DGN spokesperson Dr Aileen O'Carroll said, "Our plans have been the subject of media saturation for over a month now. We have distributed 50,000 leaflets ourselves. While we are calling an alternative event, there is no way that we can get that information to the 5 - 10,000 people expected to take part between now and then.
"So we are talking about a situation where there will be large numbers of isolated people, attempting to make their way to Parkgate Street and meeting riot police. We have been saying for some time now that the Government, gardai and media were advertising a riot with scare stories about the Farmleigh march. We are now very concerned that these measures have created a riot situation."
DGN has called on everybody concerned about civil liberties to come to a open-air meeting outside the GPO at 6 pm on Saturday to make their voice heard.
Dr Cox also condemned the attempts to create fear by encouraging business owners to shut down for May Day. Referring to the minutes of a meeting held in Store Street garda station with the Assistant Commissioner and the City Centre Businessman's Association (posted on Indymedia) and to eyewitness accounts of shopkeepers being visited by gardai and encouraged to board up for May Day, he said these actions were geared towards creating a panic.
"We call on people to remain calm and not to panic. At the same time we note that this is the first time a march has been banned in Ireland since the Dublin Lockout in 1913. For the first time in independent Ireland, the State has prevented a protest in the name of European democracy. We call on all those who care about the basic freedoms of assembly and opinion to join us at the GPO on Saturday at 6 pm to protect the right to protest."
Dublin Grassroots Network press conference today (Friday), 3 pm Indymedia centre, Charles St., off Mountjoy Square