Friday, 23 December 2016

Injunction Granted - Homeless Must Leave Apollo House

The decision by the High Court judge Paul Gilligan to grant an injunction against the Apollo House occupiers and their homeless brothers and sisters but to allow them to stay until 11 January 2017 was a face-saving exercise and an astute one.  It was made as hundreds of citizens of all persuasions were standing in solidarity with the defendants outside the Four Courts on Wednesday 21 December 2011 in bitterly cold weather. Support from passing traffic was loud and relentless. 

Inside, the judge wrestled with some problems, not least if he were to put a stay on the injunction  who would be responsible in case an accident occurred at the premises during the Christmas or new Year.  An early morning radio programme had asserted that he himself would be responsible.  Apparently he decided that the safer route for the establishment and himself was to compromise.  That he did.

This is not a victory for the homeless. In one sense it is a partial victory for the occupiers who have not been criminalised. They have well and truly highlighted the homeless problem. But it was not the kind of victory they had hoped for. Already some of the homeless who had been resident in Apollo House have been moved to shelter in the McVerry Trust Foundation. They will be replaced by others.  It would be understandable if some of the homeless might not have the stomach to appear to resist a High Court order. High Court orders are intimidatory even for the wealthiest, best fed and best housed citizens in the land.  They are particularly frightening for the homeless  They are intended to be so.  The Court, the Government, the receivers Mazars (represented by A & L Goodbody) all profess sympathy for the cause of the occupiers and their guests but . . .

There's always a "but".  The action of Judge Gilligan has saved them from the embarrassment of throwing out homeless people from a comfortable lodging just before Christmas. Christmas must not be tarnished by such grossly unjust and uncharitable actions.  Come 11 January 2017 when all the Christmas fuss and goodwill has died down, that will be a different matter.

The Apollo House occupiers will know that they have the support of millions in Dublin and around the country for their courageous action  . Whatever the outcome their names are written in gold.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

I support the occupation of Apollo House 100%

Image result for justin morahan
  On Thursday night a number of activists now known as Home Sweet Home occupied the vacant Apollo House and opened it up to Dublin's homeless people - or as many of them as they can safely accommodate.

A spokesperson described the occupation as an act of civil disobedience on Friday night's Late Late Show.

At present about 35 homeless persons are accommodated there. Support for the action has been enormous.

Prominent among the occupiers/supporters  are Brendan Ogle, Glen Hansard, Jim Sheridan, Saoirse Ronan, Liam O Maonlaí, Rosi Leonard, Damien Dempsey, Christy Moore, Conor O'Brien, John Connors, musicians Hozier, members of Kodaline band, Quentin Sheridan, Dean Scurry, Irish Housing Network, unions Mandate and Opatsi.

Image result for justin morahanThe plight of the homeless has deteriorated in Ireland since the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The anomalous situation has arisen, and is visible to all, of hundreds of people on the streets at night, several hundreds of evictions of home owners who are unable to pay the enormous monthly repayments  associated with  more extravagant times and hundreds of "ghost estates" lying empty and dangerous around the country - as well as monster buildings like Apollo House also lying empty and unused.

It was in these circumstances that Apollo House was occupied last week.

  I visited the occupation on Friday and my picture with poster stating my 100% support for the occupation appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday.. Due to new EU rules, unfortunately I may not reproduce it here.

Tomorrow the group are facing a case in the High Court where an order is being sought to remove the homeless and their champions/protectors from Apollo House. Developers want to use the building instead for "much needed office space".

I predict great public anger if this action is successful.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Lay Litigants win Appeal in Supreme Court

Kevin Tracey and Karen Tracey, lay litigants, won their appeal in the Supreme Court on Tuesday 26 July 2016, when six plenary actions against the State and Courts Service, most in the name of Mr Tracey, were re-instated in the High Court. All six cases had been struck out by the President of the High Court on 4 March 2011 while Mr Tracey was ill. The High Court President had rejected his medical certificates as inadequate.

Kevin Tracey and his wife Karen had argued in their submission on one specific case (154/2011) that the State had engaged in egregious wrongdoing in 2000 by issuing malicious summonses to Mr Tracey for not handing in his licence and insurance certificate although he had handed both in within the allotted time. They further pleaded that he had been found guilty in his absence when he was not able to attend court on the day and, after he had paid a fine to satisfy the Court Order, the State defendants had sent three Gardaí to arrest him in his home at 7.15 a.m.on 8 May 2001. They alleged that the Gardaí had assaulted Mr Tracey by handcuffing him, knocking him to the ground and one Garda held him there by placing a booted foot on him. Only when Mrs Tracey produced the receipt for the paid fine did the Gardaí leave. Although the fine payment was eventually returned by the Courts Service Mr Tracey maintained that his name had not been cleared in their records up to May 2006. Plenary proceedings were instituted against the State and Courts Service in April 2007 and were proceeding along normal lines without any undue delay on their part, until 2 July 2010 when Kevin Tracey was suddenly stricken down with a serious illness, hospitalised for seven weeks and returned to the care of his doctor and his wife.

The State and Court defendants pursued Mr and Mrs Tracey to progress the prosecution while he was still under doctor's orders not to conduct his affairs, and while he was in the care of his wife. Their plenary action was struck out by Mr Justice NIcholas Kearns, President of the High Court, for want of prosecution and for inordinate and inexcusable delay.
Five other plenary actions against the same defendants (State and Courts Service) for separate alleged egregious wrongdoing were struck out on the same date by the same Court.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court the Traceys had alleged that the relatively short delay between July 2010 and March 2011 was neither inordinate nor inexcusable, that the defendants had not argued such delay, that even if it had been so, the balance of justice required that the proceedings should not have been struck out. They also alleged errors in law and judicial bias   which were contrary to Irish Constitutional and European law. They cited in particular Kyprianou v Cyprus on judicial bias.

The Supreme Court judgement states that "the Traceys had progressed the proceedings in a timely fashion up to [the time of Mr Tracey's illness]" that "medical reports were in fact furnished (indeed there were two) which did advance matters beyond the position which had pertained on the previous occasion when the case was put back and directions given [and] there is reference to a specific medical condition [and] there is at least a form of report from a consultant (or a consultant's registrar) ... I am satisfied that the trial judge was more than entitled to consider that the medical evidence was insufficiently detailed... It seems to me that the trial judge was entitled to conclude that there had been inordinate and inexcusable delay [because of] the persistent failure of the Traceys to present adequate medical reports to the Court" during the period 2 June 2010 and 4 March 2011.It bypassed the question of the existence of judicial bias.

However, it concluded that on the balance of justice the trial judge was in error in dismissing the proceedings and that the appeal must therefore be allowed.

The full judgement is to be found at

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan arrested at Shannon airport

Spraying of runway, attempted inspection of plane
Peace activists were arrested after they had sprayed a red cross or red crosses on the runway and arrived at a US jet to examine it for arms.
Dave and Colm (with flag) approach the US Lear jet
(click on picture to enlarge)
Word has just come in (from Genny in Wales) that my long time friend and peace activist Colm Roddy along with peace activist Dave Donnellan have been arrested at Shannon airport after a 6 a.m protest this morning.

Apparently, they walked the length of the runway and sprayed red paint in the form of a cross on the runway as they walked. Eventually they reached a US jet and having attempted to search it for arms, were arrested

Afri have issued a statement in which they described the event as faith based. It is a protest against the use of Shannon civilian airport for war uses.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Letter to US Ambassador Ireland re Mary Anne Grady Flores prison sentence

Dear Ambassador

I have just received notification that grandmother Mary Anne Grady Flores was sent to prison on Tuesday to serve a six month sentence in the United States for having photographed a non-violent protest against drones at a point where she believed she was entitled to take pictures of the protest.

Before posting news of this amazing prison sentence on social media, I decided to contact you to register my astonishment and to protest most vigorously about the sentence.  I have forwarded to you the report and shameful picture that I received courtesy of Democracy Now.

As a human rights activist, it becomes necessary for me to complain about human rights abuses in countries around the world, including the USA.  The outrageous sentence imposed on Mrs Grady Flores may not rank in kind with the recent executions in Saudi Arabia, or the horrors of Isis, or the threatened executions in Egypt, or indeed the continued incarceration of prisoners, including their torture, in Guantanamo Bay.

Nevertheless her incarceration is a human rights abuse.  The right to protest is sacred, especially when it is non-violent.  To send anyone to prison for taking pictures of a peaceful, non-violent protest is outrageous.  Mary Anne was trying to prevent the killing of innocents far from the United States by US drones.  How does this make her a criminal?

I call on you Ambassador to complain against this outrage to your President and to urge him to show moral support for Mrs Grady Flores.  In October 1960, Presidential candidate John F Kennedy showed moral support for the jailed Martin Luther King in Atlanta by phoning Mrs Coretta King. Two days later he was released.

Mary Anne Grady Flores and Jonathan Wallace should be released forthwith.  So too should all such peaceful protestors who are in prison in the United States because of peaceful civil disobedience, including many Catholic Workers and members of other non-violent anti-war protest groups.  Many of these are in delicate health and many have passed  away after ill health in inhuman prison conditions left them debilitated and physically but not morally weak.

As we face the prospect of "more of the same" or worse after the US elections, it is time for President Obama to show the same concern for the rights of non-violent protestors as he has recently and properly shown for the black people whose lives have been snuffed out by gun-toting police or the citizens including children murdered by gun-toting fanatics on the streets of the USA.  It  is also absolutely important that he stop the drone killings and recede from State violence himself.

With best personal wishes

Justin Morahan

Saturday, 2 January 2016

47 executions in Saudi Arabia is to be condemned

All executions are barbaric and Saudi Arabian executions - beheadings by the sword - are particularly barbaric.The taking away of human life is unjust, cruel, inhumane and sickening.  To kill 47 prisoners as Saudi Arabia has done in recent days - announced to the world today - is human nature at its lowest. With the lone voice of a blogger I condemn it.

The Saudi authorities have declared the prisoners to have been "terrorists".  I have no idea whether or not some of them were. Whether they were terrorists or not they should never have been executed.  Terror is not the answer to terror.

At least one of those executed, the cleric Nimr al Nimr, by all accounts, was not a terrorist. He was a protestor against the Saudi monarchy.  By all accounts, he rejected violence.  He did not engage in it or support it. The barbaric killing of each and every one of these victims is heinous.  The killing of Nimr al Nimr is particularly heinous.

Any government or dictator sanctioning capital punishment for any reason today should take stock of themselves and put an end to this crime against humanity. No-one who tolerates this practice at home can condemn it elsewhere.

Let 2016 be a new beginning when we say NO to State murder of any human being for any reason whatever.