|Thought Traffic Control|
A decision from the Garda Ombudsman has recently reached the 1916 Societies in Dublin, in relation to the so-called ‘plane incident’ last St. Patrick’s Day, which has since resulted in the Gardaí investigating themselves, naturally in turn finding themselves innocent of any wrongdoing.
A brief synopsis of the events in question are that the 1916 Societies in Dublin booked a small commercial plane to carry a banner over the city centre with a message reading ‘One Ireland One Vote – 1916 Societies’. The purpose was to advertise our legitimate, democratic alternative to the establishment’s Six-County border poll and our view that the Irish people are entitled to self-determination in the form of an all-Ireland referendum on Irish Unity.
The day before the planned event, armed Gardaí stormed the airport in question, Weston Airport Kildare, and demanded of the staff that the plane be prevented from taking off. A representative of the 1916 Societies was later advised that the plane had technical difficulties and our booking, which was prepaid, had thus been cancelled.
Subsequently, we were contacted by a journalist from the Leinster Leader who advised that staff at the airport had privately revealed to him the real and far more insidious story, prompting ourselves to contact the Garda Ombudsman and lodge an official notice of complaint. Our representative met with the investigating officer, himself a fellow Guard from another station, which set-off early alarm bells regarding the impartiality of the Ombudsman and what outcome we might expect from the process.
Effectively the parties in question were to be investigated by their own colleagues; essentially they were investigating themselves.
The ensuing process took an inordinate period of time to complete, almost a full 12 months, culminating in a short letter saying, ‘we have spoken to the officers involved and found they did nothing wrong’. This conclusion itself surely requires further and indeed more pertinent questions be asked – and not just of the parties originally subject to investigation.
Why did the airport feel the need to lie about the circumstances as to why the plane could not take off? How can ordering someone not to fly a legitimate political message be considered ‘not doing anything wrong’? What special circumstances dictated the need for an armed response if not to intimidate staff at the airport? With all that in mind can the office of the Garda Ombudsman be trusted to hold what are supposedly our public servants to account?
We are now seeking legal advice with a mind to pursue a judicial review of this case. An Garda Síochána determining their own innocence, without offering legitimate reasons as to why or how such conclusion was reached, is simply not good enough.
We have seen the state’s police used to protect corporate interests in Rossport, with Gardaí bought off by Shell Oil and their cheap booze, and more recently we have seen the role of An Gardaí morph from one of public service, for the purpose of the common good, to one whereby the private interests of Denis O’Brien, and the need to ensure his water meters go in no matter the opposition, trump those of the working class people of Dublin and beyond.
With that in mind it comes as no surprise to see the state behave with such hostility towards our message. Their attitude is clear; anything resembling an alternative to the status quo needs stamped out at birth. We promise them now, it will not work.
Since and despite the incident in question, the 1916 Societies have not been deterred and indeed have seen our membership in Dublin more than double, our efforts to create a meaningful democratic engagement that allows the Irish people to determine their own future finding resonance with a risen people, who themselves are now demanding real change in this country. We are with them.
With the Centenary of the Rising fast approaching and the latent spirit of the Gael once more taking root in the public consciousness, we will be working as hard as ever to shift conditions on the ground for to achieve our goals and advance the cause of the people – no matter the regressive attitude of the state.
Irish republicans may well be used to the apparatus of state repression, conditioned as we are to the art of struggle and the consequences that often result. Regardless, we feel obliged as citizens to tackle and confront this incident head-on and for no other reason to protect and uphold the wider public interest.
Right-thinking people must surely find the suppression of legitimate political activity a worrying development that bodes well for none of us. On that basis we will be following this up and pursuing every legal avenue available to us in pursuit of appropriate redress. By no means is this the end of the matter.