A FILE HAS been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) relating to the occupation of a Green Party TD’s office by the Free Education for Everyone (FEE) lobby group.
The sit in, which occurred last December at the Lucan constituency office of Dublin Mid-West TD Paul Gogarty, resulted in a member of staff being locked into the office with the protestors, and damage caused to the building when Gardaí used force to enter the premises. Deputy Gogarty’s constituency office is located in the Muintir na Tíre Hall building, which predates the Great Famine and is thus a public listed building.
Deputy Gogarty, the Green Party Spokesperson for Education, was unable to comment to The University Observer on the DPP proceedings, but confirmed that the action involved a member of his staff.
He did state that he was concerned about FEE’s actions during the occupation. “One important issue [the DPP file] does not involve was the misappropriation of computer equipment in my office by some of the individuals concerned”, he stated. “At least one computer was illegally accessed by members of the FEE group, to send out a press statement and to do coursework. These computers contain private and sensitive information relating to constituents,” said Deputy Gogarty.
FEE spokesperson Julian Brophy was unaware of the file being lodged with the DPP, and was adamant that no charges had been brought against any of the protestors. He also denied that that any computer equipment was tampered with during the protest. “We didn’t access the computer at all, not at all. We talked to the secretary there and guaranteed her, as much as the word of eleven students could mean, that we had no intention of snooping through the office, that we were only occupying the office as a statement against fees.”
Deputy Gogarty went on to say that he felt the protest undermined the efforts of the FEE campaign. “I found their invasion of my office and their intimidation of a staff member to be unfair, immature and ultimately counter-productive. The USI and UCD Students’ Union have been doing fantastic work to highlight the problems that reintroducing fees or a loan scheme would have and the efforts of FEE have only served to damage the cause so dear to the hearts of many students,” he said.
“I respect the right of people to protest, but these individuals had no right to access my computer or barricade the door with a member of staff still inside the office.”