Your Right to Peaceful Assembly Under Attack
The Prosecution and Conviction of Glenn Miller of Yellow Vest Ireland and Peaceful Assembly
On the 26th of September 2022, Ben Gilroy released a video on his Facebook channel advising that Glenn Miller of Yellow Vests had been in court that day charged with organising a protest during the Covid-19 lockdowns and had, in fact, been found guilty of this alleged offence and was handed a 6 month sentence and a €500 fine.
Following the release of this video, there was a lot of speculation on social media as to whether Glenn had actually been prosecuted for organising a protest, or for some other offence, and we expect this suspicion came in part from a disbelief that the guards, the DPP, the Government and the Courts could actually have gone so far as to declare protesting or the organisation of a protest to be an illegal act, in a country where it is claimed that we are free.
We met with Glenn to go through the offences he has been charged with in order to resolve any speculation.
The point of this video/publication is to eliminate any doubt that the courts have declared protesting during Covid-19 to be illegal and to ask you to understand that if they can find Glenn guilty of organising a protest, they can find anyone guilty. Although this video/publication is in part about Glenn Miller, it is also about you, your right to protest and the dangerous precedent this prosecution sets and how quickly your right to peaceful assembly can be taken away, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on.
As we understand it, Glenn has 4 open summonses before the court, and they are all for “organising or causing to be organised a relevant event” – in Glenn’s case the relevant event in question is a protest.
The 2 summonses we have had sight of are for events held on the 22nd of August and 3rd of October 2020.
Although Glenn has 4 open summonses alleging that he organised protests on different dates, it has been suggested that the Gardai intend to serve up to 21 separate summonses on him – all for organising different protests on different dates.
The first comment we wish to make is that we recall a lot of negative speculation around Glenn when these protests were being organised, with many people querying how these protests were able to go ahead and why the Gardai were not intervening.
In our opinion, the level of government overreach we have endured over the last two and a half years has been a rehearsal for something more sinister in future and with this in mind, we can understand why the Gardai facilitated these protests.
If the Gardai or the Government were genuinely concerned that SARS COV 2 would be spread outdoors by people attending a protest, these protests would not have been allowed to continue – but if the point to these prosecutions is to quell the appetite for protesting in general whenever an absurd law is introduced declaring peaceful assembly to be illegal, then the only way to achieve that aim would be to make an example of someone by charging them with 21 separate offences, each potentially carrying a separate fine and prison sentence, this would ensure that they never organise a protest again and it would act as a deterrent to others.
We are also aware that Hermann Kelly of the Freedom Party is being charged with organising a protest.
One interesting point to note is that Tracey O’Mahony of the ICHR organised a protest on the 17th of March 2021 during a level 5 lockdown, and she has not been charged with any offence and the reason behind this is very clear to the ICHR. Tracey currently has a legal case before the courts challenging the constitutionality of the Covid-19 laws, and one of the replies from the State is that she does not have the legal standing to take this case (this simply means that the State is arguing that Tracey has not been sufficiently affected by the laws to allow her to take a case against the State).
If the State were to charge Tracey with organising a protest, this would mean they could no longer argue she does not have legal standing.
In the opinion of the ICHR, the Gardai, Government and DPP are strategically deciding who to prosecute and which protests to facilitate to enable prosecution.
Book of Evidence
In addition to the 2 summons we have had sight of, we have also viewed a copy of a book of evidence for another alleged offence of organising a protest, which is said to have occurred on the 12th of September 2020. Interestingly this book of evidence makes specific reference to the offence of the “alleged organisation of a protest” in breach of the Health Act 1947, whereas the summons we discussed earlier referred to the organisation of a relevant event.
We are going to extract a few noteworthy points from the book of evidence for your information. The book of evidence states the following:
- The protest was permitted to continue on 12th September 2020 and Gardai facilitated the marches/protest by engaging in traffic management and allowing free movement.
This statement is important as at the time many people questioned why the Gardai were facilitating these protests. As we have said, the conclusion that we have drawn is that the Gardai and the DPP intend to make an example of yellow vest by potentially serving 21 separate summons on them and in order to make this example, it was necessary to allow these protests to continue.
- An Garda Siochana adopted a Graduated Policing Response to ensure individuals complied with the Governments temporary restrictions on movement as set out in the Regulations, by implementing a 4 step escalating principles of engage, explain, enforce and encourage…..
This statement is very important for anyone who has been charged with an offence under any Covid-19 regulation because these same principles would or should have been applied to every person before they were prosecuted for an offence. For example, at the end of this book of evidence, the Sergeant actually recommends against the prosecution of Glenn on this occasion as the Sergeant was not comfortable that all 4 stages had been followed with respect to this protest. So, anyone who has been charged with an offence under the Covid-19 regulations should study the book of evidence in their case to see if they can pick holes and argue that all 4 stages of engage, explain, enforce and encourage have not been followed.
- The third issue we wanted to point out is the level of surveillance around these protests. The book of evidence discusses Gardai watching open source media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), relevant websites such as the YV website, being provided with photographic evidence from the Air Support Unit, also using CCTV from the Gardai Air Support Unit and using Garda camera CCTV. The book of evidence also confirms that at least 3 members of the Gardai wore plain cloths and mingled with protesters throughout the event.
- For any of these protests the Gardai carry out a threat assessment, and for the protest on the 12th of September 2020 the threat was deemed to be moderate to high risk as there were fears of a counter protest planned by “the ANTIFA group….”
This is a clear acknowledgement that a peaceful protest was planned and that the only threat of violence came from the pro establishment protesters of the left.
In fact, the book of evidence goes on to state that “there were no incidents of note reported by Gardai at this protest” – a further acknowledge that the people who organised and attended this protest intended to exercise their right of peaceful assembly.
- Finally the book of evidence concludes in recommending no prosecution in this case as “in light of the recent advice on proofs under the regulations in the Health Act …..
We hope this video/publication resolves any doubt regarding the multiple charges Glenn Miller is facing and the price he is likely going to pay for exercising his rights. We have no doubt if Glenn could go back, he would do it all again, which brings us to our final point. We are now entering a new era of state persecution, such that if you exercise political freedom, in ways deemed offensive to the establishment, you may end up in a prison cell.
We are reminded of Cathal Crowe TD standing tall in Dail Eireann and arguing to introduce laws to criminalise political discussion by branding it hate speech. We are also reminder of Leo Varadkar being interviewed on Newstalk suggesting that one could practically lose for expressing nationalist views. Make no mistake, our future, the future of our children and their freedom, depends on your willingness to resist, at high cost, unjust laws.