Yesterday morning when news of the cement truck blocking the Dail gates broke politicians and possibly Gardai spun the story to make it sound as if this one man protest was a lot more dangerous then the reality. We were told Gardai had to jump out of the way of the truck and that it crashed into the gates. Now mobile phone footage showing the entire incident reveals that the truth was not being told about this one man protest by a minor developer.
RTE have published the footage on their web site, it is also available on youtube, see below. It is filmed on what appears to be a mobile phone from the far side of Kildare street, initially just below the Dail gates although the unknown camera man moves opposite the gates. This is what it shows.
The first three stills show then truck arriving at Kildare street and driving across to the gates of the Dail where it stops. There is no one in front of the gates at the time, no one to jump out of the way. The truck stops and within seconds a loud hissing can be heard, presumably the brake lines being cut so that they brakes lock on and immobilize the truck.
Within seconds a Guard is seen running around the back of the truck and down to the drivers door where he can be heard shouting at the driver to get out. He’s hard to see on the video but the driver climbs out of a hatch in the roof of the truck and walks down the top of it to the rear where he deploys the first part of a huge placard attached to the back of the truck. In all the later footage this has been closed again, presumably so its message cannot be seen.
As he deploys the first half of it the first squad car arrives on the scene, about a minute after he had parked on the gates. The camera man moves up Kildare street to get a better view and as the second part of the placard is deployed, you can hear him exclaim that the Gardai are smashing the side window of the truck. The placard is now fully deployed and reads
“The people have had enough
All politicians have been sacked with immediate effect
Power to the people”
A second squad car arrives about two minutes after the truck has stopped at the gate. At this stage the driver is still on top of the truck and the Gardai are looking up at him. Thirty second later a red car with two secret police arrives and 15 seconds after that a third squad car. Now some Gardai climb onto of the truck, roughly 3 minutes after it has stopped at the gates. The driver then climbs down as a Gardai van arrives about 3 and a half minutes after the truck puled up.
The footage is interesting as it shows both the Gardai reaction and also that the way politicians described the event initially that morning was simply not accurate.
Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd claimed that that a Garda had to take evasive action, and that “if it had happened later in the morning, staff and public could have been killed.” He added “I think it’s an appalling vista to be doing your job as a garda in Dail Eireann and to be seriously injured”. He should now clarify who described events to him in this manner.
The Gardai arrested Joe McNamara at the scene who has been described as a small developer originally from Achill who has also worked with the Niall Mellon Trust building houses in Cape town. Joe’s solicitor has made “the point that my client asserts his innocence in respect of this matter.” Joe spent the night in the cells before being brought to court yesterday morning, very different treatment to that of another Fine Gael TD PJ Sheehan who in July was stopped driving out of the Dail by a Guard who thought he might be drunk. According to the Herald “he threatened to damage the career of the garda who refused to let him continue, until he was finally convinced to take a taxi. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who arrived at the scene, simply told the garda to “ignore what Mr Sheehan has said”.
Such is the frustration with the political establishment that Joe has become a hero to many, one Facebook supporters group already has around 10,000 members only 48 hours after the event. But in many ways this is a demonstration of the desperation of many in a situation where those who many might have hoped to lead a fightback, the union leadership, have instead sought to get back into partnership by any means. So we have the strange sight of a developer who the Irish Independent has revealed apparently owns 3.5 million to Anglo Irish Bank becoming the iconic figure of resistance to a government baling out the developers who owe Anglo billions, all at the cost of ordinary workers.
We have to move from being passive viewers of the spectacular resistance of such unlikely leaders to organising ourselves to push the only resistance that can stop the attacks on workers, the collective resistance of all workers organised through our unions. The past two years have shown this is not an easy task but there is no other way to defeat a government that is determined that we have to pay for the capitalist crash and the failed gamble of a small number of bankers, developers and speculators.