[Sinn Fein]

3rd April 2003

Actions of "Berties storm-troopers" completely unjustified and provocative

Speaking at a press conference today about the Garda handling of last nights Anti-war protest outside the Dáil Sinn Fein TD for Louth Arthur Morgan, who took part in the protest, has accused the Irish Government of "hiding behind the jackboot of the Berties storm-troopers" in the face of the opposition to the War on Iraq that exists in this Country.

Deptuy Morgan said: "Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to commend and congratulate the peaceful protesters for the mannerly and orderly way they conducted themselves in the face of severe provocation.

"I am calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice to explain what guidance or direction was given if any to the Gardaí that resulted in the unnecessary and excessively aggressive use of force against peaceful protesters that was witnessed at last night's protest outside this Dáil. And I would also ask them to explain why, after the controversy surrounding the Reclaim the Streets protests last year, were members of the Gardai again deployed with identification numbers. It is totally unacceptable and the actions of these Gardai were completely unjustified and provocative.

"There is clearly a Government sanctioned policy at play here which is designed to portray peaceful anti-war protesters in a bad light in the hope that it would turn other people away from coming on to the streets to express the democratic rights. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted or sidelined from our objectives, which is to see an end to the illegal war on Iraq, by the Governments undemocratic tactics.

"As we have seen on so many issues it is obvious that this Government in its arrogance has lost any connection to either reality or to the mood of the people. It is also very obvious that this Government and its Ministers are now hiding behind the jackboot of Berties storm-troopers instead of facing the people." ENDS

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