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29 March 2001 Edition

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Fight O'Connell Street demo ban

Dublin Corporation's plans to introduce a series of draconian bye-laws that would effectively ban rallies and protests in Dublin's O'Connell Street will be fiercely contested.

If the proposals go ahead it means that protests/demos could only last for two hours. Speakers would have to be approved in advance. All demonstrations in Dublin City Centre would be illegal unless the Corporation receives an application 31 days in advance of the event (thereby banning all spontaneous protests or assemblies of any kind). A deposit of £2,000 would have to be paid for a rally of 50 plus. The maximum number of demonstrators would be 300 - if the number exceeds this then the organisers must have indemnity insurance cover of £3 million. Noise levels would be fixed so this would probably mean a restriction on the number of megaphones. Protest organisers could also be billed for extra costs incurred by the Corporation, such as cleaning.

Dublin Corporation says it's introducing the bye-laws because demonstrations are `detrimental to the business life of the city', ignoring the long and distinguished history of mass protests in O'Connell Street.

Ironically, the redeveloped O'Connell Street has been designed to be more pedestrian-friendly. The planners obviously do not count marchers in this number.

Sinn Féin councillors have vowed to fight the proposals as a gross infringement of people's civil rights. A press conference in Dublin on Thursday to kick off the broad-based Freedom of Association Coalition's campaign against the measure will include Sinn Féin's Nicky Kehoe and Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna. What odds against a protest march to the GPO?


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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