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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
operation mizen

What is political policing and is Paul Murphy being watched?

The Anti-Austerity Alliance has been at the centre of several controversies since Murphy was elected to the Dáil last year.

14/8/2015. Water Protests Press Conferences Sam Boal Sam Boal

PAUL MURPHY HAS been at the centre of several controversies since he was elected to the Dáil a year ago.

Next month, the Anti-Austerity Alliance TD is due to stand trial for the alleged false imprisonment of Tánaiste Joan Burton at a protest in Jobstown nearly a year ago.

Murphy also claims he and others who are part of the anti-water charges movement have been subject to surveillance under An Garda Síochána’s Operation Mizen.

Last week, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed the existence of the gardaoperation but insisted that no bugging or video recording takes place.

She said gardaí had informed her that the operation does not involve “technical surveillance” but only collects “open source information” on social media.

“This is information that is generally and publicly available on the internet and social media platforms,” the minister said.

But Murphy isn’t particularly pleased about this and, in an interview with, we asked whether he felt he was being followed by gardaí:

Quinton O'Reilly /

“It’s [Operation Mizen] based on surveillance on those people because they are involved in protests, and that’s a bit sinister,” he said.

Murphy believes this, along with leaking of details about the prosecutions over Jobstown and gardaí’s refusal to grant a permit for fundraising in Dublin-South West are part of what he and others have termed “political policing”.

This, he explains, is policing that is carried out “with the aim of protecting the interests of the establishment in this state, and with a political mind”.

It doesn’t mean it has to be a political person. But in a sense the tops of the gardaí are well able to make decisions in the interests of the establishment, or not.


The Department of Justice has previously defended the actions of An Garda Síochána in relation to concerns raised about Operation Mizen, saying:

The operational arrangements for the Gardaí in fulfilling its functions – which include preserving peace and public order, protecting life and property, preventing crime and vindicating the human rights of each individual – are a matter for An Garda Síochána, subject to the law.

The Department also pointed out that it is open to any person who has a complaint against gardaí to pursue this with the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC).

Murphy did not rule out a possible GSOC complaint, but he has not made any to date in relation to Mizen.

He added that for the moment campaigners will pursue “the routes available to us”, including an appeal to the District Court over the denial of a permit for fundraising.

Read: Here’s how many people have been arrested at water protests so far this year

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