Water protester convicted on trumped up charge

 

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By Anthony Sheridan

This week witnessed one of the most disgraceful acts of political oppression this country has ever seen.

Water protester Derek Byrne was found guilty and fined €300 for shouting abuse at another citizen.

The only reason Mr. Byrne was convicted was because his insults were directed at a member of the ruling elite – The president, Michael D Higgins.

Mr. Byrne did not directly address Higgins; he was not even in his presence at the time. The insults were merely directed at the president’s car as it sped past a group of protesters.

Mr. Byrne was convicted on a trumped up charge for political reasons, to send a message to all those uppity peasants out there that the state will not tolerate any challenge to its power.

But in a way it was a victory for those of us who reject that corrupt power because the weaker a corrupt state becomes the more oppressive its forces become in response to those who challenge its power.

Increased oppression is an indication of failing power.

 

Irish Water/RTE and numbers

 

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By Anthony Sheridan

This from Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan on how much Irish Water has paid RTE in advertising costs.

Today I received confirmation through a Freedom of Information request to Irish Water how much the utility has spent on advertisement costs with the national broadcaster, RTÉ.

The figures released to me showed that the net cost of advertisement with RTE excluding VAT was €717,286 from the period of 2013-2015.

I wonder is there any correlation between this massive number and the tiny numbers of water protesters regularly reported by RTE News – just asking.

Newstalk: Contempt for listeners and broadcasting regulations

 

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By Anthony Sheridan

On 19 May last I made a formal complaint to Newstalk in response to comments made by George Hook on 11 May (Beginning of section one) about a number of politicians on the issue of water charges.

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) regulations requires the station to acknowledge my complaint and respond within 20 days.

On 23 May I received an acknowledgement but, 33 days later, there has been no response.

This dismissive attitude by Newstalk to complaints is not only unprofessional, it also demonstrates contempt for listeners, broadcasting rules and regulations and the authority of the BAI.

I suspect that Denis O’Brien, the owner of Newstalk, would have released his lawyers within minutes if the comments made by Hook were directed at O’Brien.

I have now forwarded my complaint to the BAI for investigation.

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Newstalk

BAI

Terry Prone: Water protesters are dumb

 

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By Anthony Sheridan

Terry Prone is a political advisor and PR guru so you would imagine she should be knowledgeable about current affairs.

Well, you would be mistaken.  Ms. Prone is just as ignorant about the real reasons behind the failed attempt to introduce a water tax as most other mainstream journalists.

Speaking on Denis O’Brien’s radio station to former Fine Gael politician and Denis O’Brien broadcaster, Ivan Yates, Ms. Prone first regurgitated the establishment line on the water tax.

Water is not free…system needs to be modernised, Irish Water didn’t communicate the message properly, blah, blah, blah (see full quote below).

Then she entered la la land saying that when water charges come back she was confident she would receive a tax credit for the money she has already paid.

Leaving la la land she found herself in the realm of the insanely befuddled by claiming that if water charges are not paid directly then they will be paid indirectly through income tax and suggested that people who don’t realise this are dumb.

So this  so-called expert political advisor believes that if people pay the water tax the state will give them a break on their (already exorbitant) tax levels.

If this is the level of uninformed, naive advice our politicians are getting it’s no wonder they have become criminally incompetent.

To copper fasten her ignorance about what’s happening on the political landscape Ms. Prone, giggling like an excited schoolgirl, responded as follows when told that Kenny would be Taoiseach next week.

Isn’t it great, isn’t it mighty, he’s historic.

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Terry Prone

Terry Prone quote:

The fact is that water is not free, the process is a hundred years out of date and we really needed the water charges. The fact that the set-up and communication of Irish Water was not handled correctly doesn’t mean that the issue is not valid.

With luck, those of us honest brokers Ivan like you and me who paid our water charges will have a rolling credit into the next few years when they come back.

The other thing that puzzles me, and you as a former politician would explain this to me, is, how dumb do you have to be to believe that if you don’t have water charges you’re not going to get done indirectly through taxes, you’re going to pay either way.

I would much prefer to have a discreet, oh god, here’s 160 quid right now that I have to find rather than be robbed on a daily basis through income tax.

 

Conor Pope: Genuinely clueless

By Anthony Sheridan

Wow, I gave Conor Pope the benefit of the doubt regarding his article on Irish Water in today’s Irish Times. I suspected he was put under pressure to publish what is clearly a propaganda piece for the discredited company.

But no, this tweet from Pope makes clear he’s one of the disturbingly large number of mainstream journalists who genuinely seem to be clueless regarding the real story behind the debacle.

I answered some questions on Irish Water. Some people will be enraged but I believe the answers are all true.

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Conor Pope

Conor Pope: Supporting Irish Water

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By Anthony Sheridan

Irish Times columnist Conor Pope has a Q & A piece in today’s paper entitled: Will Fianna Fail rue its stance on water charges?

Readers are kept in the dark as to who is asking or answering the questions. This, I suspect, is intentional, as the piece must surely have originated from the propaganda office at Irish Water headquarters.

I suspect that Pope was ‘instructed’ to publish the piece, which is fully in line with the Irish Times’ strong pro Irish Water/Government stance.

I further suspect that the anonymous Q&A format was a trick to fool readers into thinking that a professional/neutral expert was being asked the questions.

This device was probably a concession to Pope to mitigate journalistic embarrassment.

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Conor Pope

Clare Daly is wrong on the question of water tax refunds

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By Anthony Sheridan

Socialist TD Clare Daly is wrong in her view that those who paid their water bills should not get a refund.

It is unjust to punish those who, for whatever, reason decided to pay. They are equal victims of the corrupt regime that introduced the water tax and deserve to be treated on an equal basis to those who refused to pay. To do otherwise is to punish people for doing what they believed was the right thing to do.

Discriminating between those who paid and those who did not pay will create resentment and division resulting in a loss of support for the anti-water tax movement. Those who paid, mostly out of fear of prosecution, are looking for support not rejection.

The abandonment of those who paid is a propaganda godsend for establishment media. RTE have been quoting Ms. Daly’s rejection of payers on every headline since she was interviewed on Today with Sean O’Rourke.

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Clare Daly

Fianna Fail: Pay your water bills, you fools

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By Anthony Sheridan

Within days of the election Fianna Fail are back to their old hypocritical ways. Here’s Dara Calleary on the party’s policy on water bills.

We will not be charging people for the next five years and we will abolish Irish Water.

But we will make no refunds to those who have already paid.

Those who received recent bills and those who receive bills up to the abolition of Irish Water should pay those bills because it’s the law.

But we won’t refund those payments either.

You should pay because it’s the law – imagine that from the most corrupt party in the history of the state.

Free speech under state attack in Ireland

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I do not agree with the water charges protester who called President Higgins a midget parasite.

I do, however, totally and unconditionally support the quote attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Neither does the writer Salman Rushdie pull his punches on this issue.

Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read. If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

The Irish state, probably under instructions from the current government, does not tolerate such freedom of speech.

This contempt for the universal concept of freedom of speech is most clearly demonstrated by the charging of four citizens with the allegation that they insulted the president as his convoy sped past.

Specifically, they are facing a charge of:

Using threatening, insulting or abusive language.

Let me be absolutely clear about what’s going on here:

It is nothing less than state oppression. It is an abuse of the law and manipulation of state agencies in order to inflict political punishment against those who disagree with government policy.

Another quote from Voltaire makes the point:

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

In a functional democracy every citizen should have the right to call the president or any other citizen a midget parasite. In a robust, functional democracy nobody has the right not to be offended.

In a dysfunctional democracy like Ireland, where the corrupt political/administrative system is facing a serious challenge from disaffected citizens, such freedoms are curtailed or withdrawn completely.

An almost identical incident occurred in South Africa in 2010 when a student, Chumani Maxwele, was arrested for allegedly insulting the president as his convoy sped past.

In stark contrast to the Irish incident, where the protesters were the target of almost universal media condemnation, the South African media strongly condemned the state for its abuse of free speech.

An investigation by the Centre for Constitutional Rights found that Maxwele’s rights of human dignity, security of person and freedom of expression and peaceful/unarmed demonstration had been violated.

One media commentator wrote the following:

(A concern is) that when a private citizen is arrested for ‘insulting the president’…the Government and the ANC take one step closer to assuming the comical status of the typical African tin-pot dictatorship.

Citizens of our tin-pot democracy do not enjoy the protection of a Centre for Constitutional Rights. Neither can citizens who participate in democratic, non-violent protests expect much support from a media that is overwhelmingly pro government/establishment.

A media that does not see free speech as a fundamental human right, no matter who it offends, but rather as a conditional right confined within very narrow parameters.

In a follow-up article I will analyse an Irish Times editorial on this issue which reflects a disturbing blindness within Irish media to the frequent abuse by the state of citizens rights.

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President Higgins
Government

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