Your outrage must endure another 37 days…

Outraged at Israel’s violent attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla? Outraged at those who are outraged? Either way, you may have to wait 37 days the next time you want to join your international peers in demonstrating your anger.

Something that should’ve been obvious from yesterday’s City Centre vigil for the flotilla, but was rarely mentioned: If the Public Assemblies Bill passes, yesterday’s demonstration would have been illegal. The organizers and everyone there could have been subject to six months in prison and hefty fines.

The bill may have been designed to deal with contentious parades, but  it has arguably missed its mark. Yesterday we saw the clearest incarnation of this, when hundreds of people gathered at City Hall to show the world how they felt, and to react to international events. But the Public Assemblies Bill would change all this, as it would require any public demonstration or protest to seek permission 37 days before the beginning of the event. While it leaves room for ’emergencies,’ this still requires 3 days notice and permission from the Chief Constable. This means people here in Northern Ireland would still be waiting to demonstrate over Israel’s actions.

Instead of clearly and narrowly dealing with contentious parades in Northern Ireland, it would deny groups like trade unions, community groups, or, as in yesterday’s case, hundreds of ordinary people – some with party or group affiliations, others without, everyone with something to say – the ability to organize quickly and show support for a particular cause.

Whether or not you disagree or agree with Israel’s actions isn’t important. What’s important is that, at least right now, you have the right to demonstrate to the world (peacefully) what you think. The Public Assemblies Bill could take that right away.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    The sooner the better.

  • Bubbler

    Just to clarify – you’re opposed to the right to peaceful assembly? Or is this a thinly veiled expressed of your opposition to the international outrage at Israel?

    They’re separate issues, and should be treated as such. Presumably one can support peaceful and assembly and Israel’s actions (or whatever else).

    In fact, there have been pro-Israeli demonstrations some places in the world, which would face the same restrictions as anti-Israeli protests under the proposed Bil.

    You can see photos of one (peaceful) pro-Israel demonstration in Dublin, as well as its (peaceful) pro-Palestinian counter-demonstration:

  • Michael

    As Terry Wogan said to Freddie Starr
    You’re such a dick 🙂

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Presumably somone will tweak the bill so it is no longer so silly.

  • The Raven

    Well, thanks to others on here bringing it up, I certainly responded to the call for responses to the consultation, and emailed both my MLAs and my MP.

    All the MLAs came back with responses, however, I am still waiting on Mr Gregory “Absentee Landlord” Campbell for any response at all. Perhaps he doesn’t read emails. Perhaps he can’t bring himself to say that he can’t stray from the party line. Perhaps he just got the 12,000 votes out of 37,000 potentials, that he needed to win, and has retreated back to the Londonderry part of Derry City and doesn’t intend to show his face for yet another four years.

    Any which way up, I’m pissed off.

  • Would this not clearly have fallen under the three day emergency rule … and would most likely have gone ahead?

  • Patrick Moran

    The most hilarious thing about this proposed piece of legislation in relation to the events of the past couple of days, Mr Gerry Adams MP of West Belfast turned out to the even on the 31st… yet Mr Adams is also leader of one of the main parties that sat down and designed this piece of Draconian legsislation removing our rights to demonstrate in a peaceful and public manner! No one be fooled by the “contentious parades” line Stormont are giving us, its not even to stop portests against Israel and their Terrorism, its aimed directly at Trade Unions who we need now more than ever in the face of a Tory Government bent on public sector cuts to the 6 counties, (the North of England and Scotland(3 areas that rejected a conservative mandate in the last election) ) if this legislation is passed, we will not be able to stand up and strike, we will have to wait 37 days before we can have any form of action against cuts to the public workforce, to our frontline services like the education system and the healthcare system, just today I heard of further cuts planned for the Mater A&E. We cannot let this Legislation go unchallanged!

  • “john”

    the parades element is a total excuse

    this is just designed to CONTROL us

    the power mad bastards have gotten a real taste for power in stormont

    they must be hoping for an invite to the next bilderberg conference by showing how tough they are

    this legislatio is completely in line with similar legislation brought in elsewhere and im sure if it is on the agenda here it will be the same in uk soon enough

  • Phil Watson

    I agree with both John and Patrick. I would also add that number of 50+ people covered by this “draft” can be lowered at any time by the OFMDFM to whatever they like. So in reality that number could become 5!
    This is clearly designed at making the we people of the North obedient servants to their masters at Stormont.