The case against Barbara Muldoon has been dismissed in court this morning (11th July 2013), after two substantial hearings yesterday and today! Justice prevailed!
Thank you so much to all who signed this petition and who supported Barbara throughout this process. Our right to peaceful protest has been vindicated!
Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking part in a protest in 2009. The "incident" took place three and a half years ago outside the BBC on Ormeau Avenue, when Barbara participated in a protest against the BNP appearing on BBC’s Question Time. The protest in Belfast was attended by over 200 anti-racism campaigners consisting of trade unionists, community activists, socialists and people from a Black and minority ethnic background. A group of BNP supporters turned up to counter protest. Their faces were covered and they gave Nazi salutes and hurled racist abuse at those on the demonstration. The police refused to intervene to prevent this from occurring and instead arrested Barbara as the anti-racism protesters were making their way to Belfast City Hall in order to safely disperse. The police alleged that as soon as the protesters moved, they took part in an unlawful procession, despite having advised her that people should leave en mass and go to City Hall to disperse from there.
It has taken three and a half years to bring this case to court. If convicted, Barbara faces a penalty of up to of six months imprisonment. It is clear that it is not in the public interest for the case to continue.
This case also has implications for the protection of the right to protest and peaceful assembly in Northern Ireland. It is being pursued under the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 which was introduced to deal with contentious parades in the NI context (i.e. communal parades that are either unionist or nationalist). Application of the legislation ‘on the spot’ to what was, in essence, a ‘static’ protest is a net widening of police powers to control protests in Northern Ireland. The ‘net widening’ resulting from the use of this legislation to regulate protests other than ‘communal parades’ impacts on people’s right to peaceful protest – be it in the context of current austerity measures, welfare reform, at the upcoming G8 summit or to highlight other issues of social importance in the future.
We the undersigned call on the Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC to drop the charges against Barbara Muldoon immediately and to protect the right to peaceful protest in Northern Ireland.
Drop The Charges Against Barbara Muldoon