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Éirígí Activists joined fishermen and walkers from Wicklow and Dublin for a successful fish-in protest. The protest was organised to highlight an illegal land grab by the owner of the European Golf Club on Wicklow’s Mizen Head coastline. The owner of the European Golf Club, Pat Ruddy, has caused widespread anger among local fishermen and walkers by erecting an illegal steel fence at the site. The illegal fence denies the public access to the coastline path around Mizen Head. The protestors arrived on the stolen land at 6.30am on a beautiful Sunday morning and immediately began setting up an anti-land grabbing camp. Sunday’s protest action took the form of a fishing competition, which the angling enthusiasts took great sport from.
Following the lighting of the barbecues, the protestors took a break from the fish-in to have breakfast. The fishermen were shocked to uncover a man with a camera hiding in the bushes that separated the golf club perimeter from the coastline path way. The man, who identified himself as a European Golf Club representative, demanded that the protestors leave the strip of land. Despite having his cover blown the golf club worker continued taking pictures of the activists. The protestors quickly pointed out that his claim of ownership over part of Wicklow’s coast is a sham and that the illegal steel fence with barbed wire should be removed, as directed by both Wicklow County Council and An Bord Pleanála.
The golf club representative was left in no doubt that the protest was continuing regardless of his ongoing harassment. As predicted, the Gardaí were next to arrive and like the previous fish-in protest, they immediately took the side of private business over public grievances. The Gardaí questioned and cautioned all the protestors and informed the activists that they were occupying private land and believed to be trespassing. As the Gardaí began taking the details of those present, they were asked what legalisation the protestors were being questioned under. Initially the Gardaí seemed unwilling or unable to answer the question.
When told they would not be getting names until protestors were told what law they where in breach of, or indeed what legislation covered this attack on our right to engage in sporting past times and to access stolen public coast line, a member of the Gardaí responded by asking protesters, “What do you want me to do, Google it on my phone?”Eventually the Garda in question quoted his interpretation of trespass legislation which of course took the side of the land grabber over the rights of the citizens. The Gardaí, like the golf club official who kept on peeping on the protestors from his vantage point in the scrub, were told that the protest was peaceful and the fishing competition, which was won by a fisherman from North Wicklow, would continue. Left in no doubt the protestors would not be leaving until the competition was over, the Gardaí then left the scene to converse with the golf club owner.
Speaking after the protest, éirígí activist Adrian O’Raghallaigh said, “Once again, it was great to be part of another successful protest against this despicable land grabber. This stretch of coast line in Wicklow is a natural resource which has one of the best bass fishing points in Ireland. I commend all the protestors and fishermen who turned out today and who took part in the fish-in action. “I call on the European Golf Club to come to their senses and release the stolen land, which can then be properly enjoyed by local people and tourists alike.” Adrian concluded, “éirígí and anti-land grab activists have agreed to continue highlighting this issue and are planning to increasing the pressure on the golf club owner. Again I would like to send out an invitation to walkers and anglers to take part in the next protest to force an end to the barricade of Wicklow’s shoreline, the details of which will be made known in the near future.”