Garda tells court Anti Austerity Alliance would use money for 'unlawful acts'

Garda Supt Orla McPartlin
Garda Supt Orla McPartlin

A SENIOR Garda refused to grant an Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor a permit for house-to-house and street collections in Dublin because she believed the money would be used for illegal acts, a court has heard.

Dublin District Court was told today the party wanted to raise funds to campaign in the next general election and they rejected the claims made by Divisional Chief Supt Orla McPartlin, of the Garda's Dublin Metropolitan Region.

An appeal is being brought by the Anti-Austerity Alliance, one of their members John Donnellan and councillor Michael Murphy against the high-ranking Garda's decision which they say prevents them from being able to raise funds in the capital. 

Judge Michael Coghlan adjourned ruling on the issue which could also lead to a High Court constitutional challenge.

Dublin TDs Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins and a number of Anti-Austerity Alliance were present for the proceedings.

In July, Cllr Murphy, a member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, applied to Chief Supt McPartlin for a permit to carry out a collection. The application was made under the Street and House to House Collection Act, said Peter Leonard BL for Chief Supt McPartlin.

Chief Supt McPartlin refused the application because it was her opinion that “the proceeds of the collection or part of the proceeds would be used in a manner to encourage directly or indirectly the commission of unlawful acts”.

In evidence today Chief Supt McPartlin told Judge Michael Coghlan that she was aware Cllr Murphy had been involved in a public order incident on November 15 last year.

She said there were also many protests against Irish Water installing meters in her division over the previous six to nine months. She refused Cllr Murphy's application for permission to have collections because she believed it would be used, or would help people, to engage in further protests.

She said several other people had been arrested at protests and she refused to grant the permit based on her opinion and information she had. Section Nine of of the Street and House to House Collection Act requires that she give an explanation.

She went onto tell the court that it was her opinion the proceeds could be used to encourage directly or indirectly the commission of unlawful acts.

She told the court that each application is dealt with individually and on its own merits and it was not “a blanket refusal”.

In cross-examination with David Langwallner BL, for the appellants, she said there had been several public order incidents in her division which formed her opinion

She agreed she was aware Cllr was member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Mr Langwallner put it to Chief Supt McPartlin that she knew full well that the application was made by Cllr Murphy on behalf of the Anti-Austerity Alliance. She said any application would be duly considered.

Mr Langwallner said that the Anti-Austerity Alliance wanted to engage in fund raising because of the forthcoming election. The legislation stated that during the appeal once the senior garda gives their opinion and has reasonable grounds for refusing the permit, the court is obliged to accept that, Mr Langwallner argued.

Counsel for the Anti-Austerity Alliance also said that the net affect of this was to ban a political party from fund-raising in Chief Supt McPartlin's division and this raised constitutional issues. Mr Langwallner also said High Court constitutional proceedings may have to be taken.

Judge Coghlan asked for both sides to lodge written submissions within 14 days and he adjourned the case until November 20th.