Amongst activists, trade unionists and young people across the world, there has been universal condmnation of the jailings of Clare Daly and Joe Higgins. Letters of protest have flooded in from most countries in Europe, Brazil, Nigeria, North America and Sri Lanka. Dock workers on strike in Israel have protested to the Irish embassy there.
In the week after the jailings, protests were held outside Irish embassies in most of the capitals in Europe, Australia and in New York and Boston in the US.
The reason is clear: these jailings are seen as a fundamental attack on the democratic right to protest.
But the international protests also show something else. Across the world governments are implementing policies of privatisation, increased taxation and attacks on working class living standards. The example of Joe and Clare (and now ten more residents and anti-bin tax campaigners in Dublin City) who stood up to attacks on working class communities has inspired solidarity and support because people across the world identify with such a stand and hope to see similar developments in their own countries. The example of public representatives who are not corrupt careerists and keep their promises is also an example which motivates international support.
The Free Clare and Joe Campaign was set up by Fingal Anti Bin Tax Campaign to mobilise protests against the jailings and put pressure on the Fianna Fail government to stop the attacks on the right to protest.
In Ireland at least 14 TDs have supported the campaign for Clare and Joe's release. Artists and entertainers like Dolores Keane and Frances Black have also added their names to the list.
Internationally hundreds of trade unionists have backed the campaign including over fifty in Scotland. 15 National Executive members of trade unions in Britain have supported the Free Clare and Joe Campaign. Two TDs in the Brazilian parliament, two French members of the European Parliament and three Portuguese Members of Parliament have also come out in support of the campaign.
The Fianna Fail government's attacks on the right to peaceful protest have been publicised around the world. The international campaign of protest will continue until all those jailed are released, so Bertie beware!
Free Clare and Joe Campaign, AIB, Dame Street, Dublin 2. Sort Code: 93-12-09; Account number: 00208087. Please make sure you fill your name and address on the lodgement form