website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI
Defend the right to protest!
Paul Murphy, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland), Dublin
A member of the Socialist Party, Darren Cogavin, and one other student, Enda Duffy, are due to meet the Vice President for Students at University College Dublin (UCD), Dr. Martin Butler, in the next week. They face punishment for engaging in a peaceful protest against the giant corporation Shell and the Green Party Minister for Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan. Two protests, organised by the campaign ‘Shell to Sea’, took place on 30 October in UCD, the biggest college in Dublin. They were opposing the giveaway of over 50 billion euro worth of gas for free by the Irish government to Shell, and the building of an unsafe onshore pipeline and refinery by Shell in Rossport, Co. Mayo, on Ireland’s west coast.
The first protest was outside a Shell recruitment fair, highlighting the role of Shell in Mayo and internationally. The second took place outside a lecture theatre where Eamon Ryan was due to speak at a debate. He was confronted by about 50 chanting protestors and he turned on his heels and left.
In the aftermath, the college authorities and some right-wing students tried to paint these as ‘violent protests’, which they were not. Three students have received letters from the college authorities, claiming that the protestors harassed students, intimidated staff and put the safety of others at risk.
One of the students has already met with the authorities and been given a fine of up to 100 euro. The Socialist Party says no student should face any disciplinary action, or have to pay any fine, for engaging in a peaceful protest.
The authorities’ action is clearly an attempt to criminalise protest on campus. Recently, general activity by students in the college has been at a relatively low level, and now the authorities are now attempting to set a precedent of punishing students for protest.
The college authorities can be made to step back, through pressure in the college (the Students’ Union President has supported the students) and from outside, with a campaign of emails and phone call protests.
Dr. Martin Butler: firstname.lastname@example.org.
the UCD President email@example.com
Please let the UCD authorities know about your protest by phoning Martin Butler on 00 35 1 7161280.
UCD President, Hugh Brady, can be phoned on 00 35 1 716 1618.
Committee for a Workers' International
PO Box 3688, London E11 1YE, Britain, Tel: ++ 44 20 8988 8760, Fax: ++ 44 20 8988 8793, firstname.lastname@example.org