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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 15 June 2021
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"Will I go for my run earlier?": The Jobstown residents waiting for that early morning knock

One activist said he had taken to sleeping in his clothes, while a councillor said he was getting up at 6am to take the dog for a walk.

ACTIVISTS AND LOCAL politicians from Jobstown have been telling their stories this morning, in the wake of more than 20 arrests by gardaí investigating last November’s protest at An Cosán.

A large-scale demonstration is being planned for this Saturday in protest at the garda operation.

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said she was “worried about the parallels with fascism” following the protest at the college of further education. Her car was surrounded by dozens of demonstrators chanting “peaceful protest” as she left an event, and her car was kept in the area for almost three hours.

TD Paul Murphy and two Anti-Austerity Alliance councillors were questioned last Monday by gardaí tasked with investigating the false imprisonment of the Labour leader.

More early morning arrests were made last Tuesday morning, and the pattern has continued each weekday until yesterday — with between two and ten gardaí turning up in south-west Dublin suburbs, often before 7am, to take people into custody.

Activist Paul Kiernan, who was arrested early yesterday, said he was leaving to take his son to the Eye and Ear Hospital as gardaí called. Kiernan said he had taken to sleeping in his clothes before being arrested, in the wake of last week’s developments.

16-year-old school student Jason Lester — who has spoken at a number of AAA events — also told his story (check out the video below from a city centre protest last week).

Source: Christina Finn/YouTube

Meanwhile, activists who were at the protest at An Cosán but who haven’t (yet) been detained for questioning spoke of how their lives were being disrupted as they waited for gardaí to call.

Sandra Fay, a secondary school economics teacher, said she had been waking up every morning at 6 o’clock to get ready for any unexpected visitors.

“I didn’t think it would affect me, I really didn’t,” she told reporters at a press conference organised by the AAA.

I’d school last week and I did think ‘oh my God am I going to be arrested before school?’ — didn’t think it would be a good move. But I did think they would wait till the school holidays.

Sandra Fay Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

It’s been a similar pattern each day for the last week or so, Fay said.

Every morning you’re just waking up before everything at six of clock and you’re trying to go back to sleep — you know, it’s your week off.

Fay said she learned of the arrests each morning through texts and Facebook messages, and that she had visited the local garda station during her lunch-break on a number of occasions last week to see if she could help.

I wanted to show solidarity with these people that were there with me that I know did not commit a crime on that day.

In terms of disruption to her daily regime, she said she had taken steps to be more “careful” in the morning.

“Figuring… Will I go for my run earlier in the morning so I’m not here?”

Fay said she had gone out for early runs on a few mornings, telling her partner that if gardaí called “tell them I’ll make my way down — because I don’t think I should be pulled out of my bed”.

Brian Leech — who is the only South Dublin councillor for the party not to have been arrested so far — said he was one of a number of other protesters waiting to be taken in for questions.

“I’m up at six o’clock every morning for exactly the same reason. I’m up and walking the dog,” Leech said.

Water Protest - Press Conference. Pict Sandra Fay (centre), Paul Murphy TD and other demonstrators arrested by gardaí investigating 'Jobstown' with their supporters. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Councillor Leech said he had already attended Tallaght Station voluntarily to meet with gardaí, but that he hadn’t engaged when asked questions about what happened at last November’s event.

Fay said a number of people who were at An Cosán and who were involved in the demonstration had offered to “hand themselves in” to Gardaí.

They don’t want that. They want the political policing. They want the publicity.

She added:

“People are saying we’re benefiting from this. We’re not.

“There’s a third of people undecided and they want them in fear and they want people who haven’t gone out to march saying ‘don’t go up there now, there’ll be trouble’.

I want young children out… I don’t want the next generation asleep like the last two generations before us. They have to be awake and they have to know how to protest and they have to become active citizens. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Fay said the investigation and the early morning arrests had undermined the work of community gardaí in the area, and said that locals generally “worked well” with the police force.

In a brief comment on the arrests last week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny dismissed any accusations of political policing, telling reporters “I have no comment to make on that. It’s entirely a matter for the gardaí. They run their operations completely independently of the Government”.

Photos: Hundreds protest over 20 arrests of anti-water charge activists this week

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