A spokesperson for the Gardaí has told Irish reporters this morning that the new defence of shouting ‘peaceful protest’ while carrying out acts of violence and intimidation is legally binding and that the Gardaí cannot stop acts of violence when these words are being shouted.
This announcement comes in a week where the water protests were taken to a new level during the weekend when Joan Burton’s car was barricaded by protesters for two hours and when the minister was struck by a high velocity water balloon.
Other acts of peaceful protests in the last few weeks include setting fire to water department vehicles and physically disrupting the instillation of water meters by workers who are just following orders. While these protests at their essence are peaceful, they might be undermining the intentions that the protesters have due to the fact that they are anarchic.
With no leader in opposition to the water meter charges, this has made it very easy for Irish media to label the movement as illegitimate. This is because no respectable politician in the Dáil has stood up to champion the cause. So far, only politically bankrupt TDs have spoken out against the meters such as Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, and Paul Murphy. These are three people that you would not trust with a pair of scissors let alone the running of a functional economy.
The legal loophole of being able to engage in violence while shouting ‘peaceful protest’ is one that will have diminishing returns in terms of the cause that the protesters are fighting for out on the streets. As long as they remain peaceful in name only, the protesters will be demonised by those in power who are installing the charges. Paul Murphy and co. know this but will not act on it because it suits them to portray themselves as the political victim in this struggle.