A boy (17) brought to court for attending a peaceful protest at age 15 and charged with “false imprisonment” for obstructing a politician’s car.
The country which this boy resides in holds a maximum sentence for this crime ranging from a hefty fine (and criminal record) to life imprisonment.
You’re most likely assuming this happened in a country far removed from western society, but this happened in Ireland, Dublin to be exact, on 20/10/2016.
Former Labour boss Joan Burton personally pressed the charges against the teen amidst public outcry from civil society organizations like Jobstown Not Guilty and left-wing TD Paul Murphy and Anti Austerity Alliance member Sandra Fay who hails from the boy’s constituency of Jobstown, Southside Dublin.
The boy was found guilty after two years of court proceedings, despite having massive support from local and national left spectrum civil society groups.
The verdict has been interpreted by TD’s such as Paul Murphy as the first step towards the criminalization of social protest in Ireland and a threat to democratic values.
Burton stated in court that she “feared for her life” as the 15-year-old chanted through a megaphone “no way, we won’t pay!” – the battle-cry of the anti-water charges movements in Ireland.
The extent of Burton’s “trauma” after the ordeal has been discredited as wildly ingenuine and has been consistently contrasted to the trauma caused by her policies to the most vulnerable in Irish society.
Burton was the target of protesters as she, at the time, headed the party created by one of our national heroes over 100 years ago- James Connoly , who is considered the father of socialism in Ireland, and orchestrated the famous 1913 lockout for workers rights in Ireland.
It would be a safe assumption to think that the Labour of today is not as he envisaged due to the pro austerity, anti-worker, anti-family policies it has concocted when sharing power with Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael.
The boy has since appealed the judge’s decision and further trials will take place for the 22 other protesters involved on the day in question.