06 October 2005

You can be arrested for visiting a book shop!

Indymedia Ireland

Irish facism in action

by Seamus O Raghallaigh
Thursday, Oct 6 2005, 5:09pm

A personal encounter with the Irish version of the Stasi- the special branch of an Garda Siochana.

Last Wednesday (5th Oct.) I decided to go into the Sinn Fein Phoblachta book shop at 223 Parnell Square (just down from the UCI cinema at the junction with Capel Street).
It was unplanned and spur of the moment. I look in the shop window and though it would be interesting to see what they had for sale. As I am also very interested in 1798 books and memorabilia I though this could be a good place to find more obscure publications that are hard to find in main stream book shops (Easons etc).

Anyway, I went in and browsed for a while and discovered a 1798 old song book which I was delighted to find. I had a chat with a nice lady there, Josephine, and discussed Wolfe Tone and the 1798 rebellion.

I then left with my books and had walked about 200m towards the cinema when an middle aged white/grey haired man in what I would describe as a flashers trench coat, approached me at a slight run. Stop he said and flashed out his gold garda badge. Here we go I though, should have know this would happen. He then asked me in an aggressive tone what my name was and where I lived. I was stunned frankly and replied that I wanted to know why he was requesting this from me. This wasn’t what he expected I think, as his tone suddenly got more menacing. He said that I was seen coming out of the Sinn Fein office and wanted to know what I was doing there. I said I went in to buy some books that’s all. Let me see he demanded. Hang on I said this is intimidation; I have a right to visit any book shop I want without this kind of abuse. Its not intimidation, he replied, and said that “they” are terrorists in that shop. Oh? I was under the impression that Sinn Fein Phoblachta was a legal political party I replied. No, he said, they aren’t legal.

This made me realize this guy was talking rubbish, which irritated me no end. I felt like asking him why the shop was open and allowed if they were illegal, surely the shop would have been closed long ago. I then said that my wife and child were waiting to collect me and that I need to go. He then threatened me by saying that they would be waiting 24hrs as he was going to arrest me under the “offences against the state” act that he and could hold me for 24hrs if I didn’t show him what I bought and give my name and address. Now I wasn’t sure if this was true or not, but I didn’t relish being arrested for a day for simply going into a book shop. I gave him my details and he then let me on my way. Does anyone know if this act allows citizens to be detained for 24hrs for not giving their details? Is this the type of fascist state we now live in Eire? If you go to the “wrong” book shop you will be stopped by the secretthought police aka the special branch. I though this ended with the fall of soviet style communism. I naively thought I had political freedom to visit the premises of any political party without fear of intimidation. Sad sad sad.

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