On 19 March, Orla Murphy walked up to the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Dublin and splashed pink paint against the building before spray painting the words “No More Empty Promises” on the front of the building. Meanwhile, her friend, fellow activist, and supporter of the Irish Marxists (the IMT in Ireland), Zac Lumley, live-streamed her protest.
For this justified protest at the inaction of the Irish state, gardaí arrested both Orla and Zac, applying extremely harsh bail conditions amounting to €3,000. Zac was, naturally, unable to get this money at short notice, and as a result spent three nights in prison. Orla, meanwhile, refused to sign her bail conditions and was imprisoned for five weeks.
We believe that it is a scandal that the Irish state is using such repressive measures against young climate activists, whose legitimate and peaceful protest caused a superficial and insignificant amount of damage – damage that pales into utter insignificance next to the destruction being wrought to the Earth’s climate.
In response, activists in the Marxist Student Federation have been campaigning in support of Zac and Orla over the past month:
- Launching a petition to defend the right to protest;
- Discussing this issue – and the wider climate crisis – in our meetings;
- Taking photos of solidarity;
- And visiting the Irish Embassy in London this week, on Tuesday 12 October, to hand in a letter of protest.
Marxist societies in Southampton, Glasgow, Queen Mary, Sussex, UEL, UCL, and Oxford (where Zac himself is a member) have all taken solidarity pictures. Plenty more have sent in messages of support, and have helped spread the petition.
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We call on workers and students – across Britain, Ireland, and internationally – to continue raising this issue inside the labour movement and student movement. Stand in solidarity with these young comrades, and to help repel this assault on the democratic right to protest.
The establishment wants to turn protest into a criminal act. The real criminals are big business, who have committed wanton destruction to the environment in their pursuit of profit, and the millionaire’s club of politicians who have aided and abetted them.
To help fight against these outrageous charges, please:
- Sign this petition from the Marxist Student Federation.
- Send an email to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Minister for Justice.
- Post pictures and messages of solidarity with Orla and Zac using hashtags #ClimateProtestNotACrime and #NoMoreEmptyPromises.
- Pass the model motion below in your student union or trade union branch.
We say: Drop the charges! Protest is not a crime!
Here's what you can do to help 👇— Socialist Appeal (@socialist_app) October 5, 2021
Sign this petition from the Marxist Student Federation.https://t.co/nI5Bt8XcnD
This branch notes that:
- On 19 March, Orla Murphy and Zac Lumley engaged in an act of protest, painting the slogan “No more empty promises” on the doors of the Department for Foreign Affairs in Dublin, Ireland.
- The two activists, having been arrested, were then set extremely harsh bail conditions, such as a €3000 bail limit; an obligation to sign on with the Gardaí every day, only relaxed in Zac’s case in order to allow him to continue his studies at university; and a ban from entering much of Dublin city.
- The two activists now face serious charges of “criminal damage”, which may involve custodial sentences.
This branch further notes that:
- The persecution of these activists fits a pattern of heavy state repression against protesters. This was the case, for example, with Paul Murphy TD and others arrested in Ireland on trumped-up charges of ‘false imprisonment’ after a sit-down protest against water charges in 2014.
- This heavy-handed approach is clearly designed to deter other young people from protesting against the Irish state’s inaction on climate change by intimidating them with the consequences.
- That this case, like the Jobstown protests before it, will be used as a precedent to beef up repression against future protests, whether they technically break the law or not.
This branch therefore resolves to:
- Call upon the union’s leadership to immediately issue a public statement calling for the release of Orla and Zac, and for all charges against them to be dropped.
- Call upon our branches to take pictures of solidarity at their meetings, and publicise them on social media with the hashtags #ClimateProtestNotACrime and #NoMoreEmptyPromises.
- Instruct the union leadership to send a message to the representatives of the Irish government laying out the demands in point 1 above and demanding their fulfilment.
We are writing to you to express our alarm that the state has decided to prosecute two young environmental activists, Orla Murphy and Zac Lumley.
It is a scandal that at a time when the world is careening towards a climate catastrophe that the state in Ireland is subjecting young climate activists to harsh bail terms and serious criminal charges. The superficial and insignificant amount of damage caused by the protest that led to Orla and Zac’s prosecution pales into utter insignificance next to the destruction being wrought to the Earth’s climate.
We call upon the Justice Minister to intervene and for the DPP to drop all charges against Orla and Zac immediately.
With COP26 around the corner and Ireland among the worst polluters in Europe, the eyes of environmental activists, trade unionists and young people everywhere are on the Irish government.
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