The following article first appeared on Substack and is syndicated with permission.

In the last month, three people have been arrested in the Republic for holding up signs at protests. 

One man in Portlaoise was arrested, held for over 6 hours, charged and appeared in court for holding up a poster at a gay pride march – the “LGBT Tyranny” sign pictured in the thumbnail above. In the last two weeks, two men in their 60s have been arrested, held for 2 hours and cautioned for holding up signs at a hospital carrying out abortions – their signs said “Abortion Is Not Healthcare” and “Babies Being Killed Here”

In each case, a member of the public objected to the signs the protestors were carrying and made their objections known to a Guard in the vicinity of the protest. Arrests followed under the Public Order Act. The charges against them were related to speech that was claimed to be “threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene”

The man arrested in Portlaoise was John McGhee. You might possibly have seen McGhee before – he can’t have had many finer moments than this one last year

McGhee has uploaded the summons he received. They involve three sections of the Public Order Act. Section 8 gave the Guard the power to order McGhee to move on, which he refused to do. The Guard only had this power to order him to move on because of McGhee’s supposed violation of Sections 6 and 7. The Section 6 charge alleged that McGhee’s speech was “threatening, abusive or insulting”, the Section 7 charge alleged that McGhee’s displayed a sign which was “threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene”.

So clearly all three charges depend on McGhee’s language (his own and on the sign) having been in some way “offensive”.

The gay pride march in Portlaoise at which all this happened took place on September 9th. It’s worth repeating that things began with a member of the public asking a Guard to intervene with McGhee over his sign. The Guard made the decision to act on the complaint and it resulted in McGhee being arrested, detained for six hours in a cell at the local Station and missing a day’s work. He was charged and released and had to appear in Portlaoise District Court two weeks ago on September 28th.

In court, the Judge and the prosecuting Guards seemed surprised that McGhee was pleading not guilty. Defendants on Public Order offences usually plead guilty because things usually only end up in court after the defendant has lost the head. Not because they held up a sign. McGhee is now awaiting a full hearing in the same District Court on October the 19th. He was also told by the Judge that the Guards would be bringing more charges against him in the interim – but the Judge didn’t know what they were. Ah, Justice.

Hardened criminals

The two men arrested at the pro-life gathering are worried that news of their arrest might put people off joining them in their protest which is still ongoing. They have the same concern in this case that many of us have about the hate speech bill – while only a few may be arrested it will encourage the majority to self-censor.

Out of respect for those concerns, the details of their protest – where it happened or who organised it – will be kept vague. We will just focus on what happened to the men themselves on the day.

The posters in the main thumbnail above are not their actual posters but the inscriptions are the same – “Abortion Is Not Healthcare” and “Babies Being Killed Here”. Things kicked off when a woman passerby came up to them and said “Abortion *is* Healthcare” and continued on. A minute later two Guards approached them saying that there had been a complaint. After some interaction, one Guard attempted to grab their posters off them and ordered them to move on – on the same Public Order grounds as in Portlaoise. The two refused to move on, the van was called, they were put in the back of it and taken to separate cells at the local Station. There they sat for 2 hours; the concrete bed, dingy mattress, small window high up the wall, patch of blue that prisoners call the sky, the whole works.

These two men of pensionable age were released with an Adult Caution – and reference again made to Section 6, 7 and 8 of the Public Order Act.

Just to mention in passing, the pair of Guards who arrested them, and later other Guards in the Station, argued with them over whether the statements on their posters were true and whether they were “just their opinion” – all of which of course was completely irrelevant. The only thing that mattered as far as the law was concerned was whether they were “offensive”

What the Hell is going on?

Happy to relate, at a recent protest an Inspector from a neighbouring station to the one above was willing to discuss the matter and provide some clarity. Another example of how lucky we are to have a Garda Siochana who place great value on both their relationship with the public and on common sense (ducks for cover)

This Inspector hadn’t heard about either of the two cases. He was surprised by what had happened. There had certainly been no orders from above to start policing things this way. He said, and it seemed quite reasonable, that in each case it sounded like a decision being made by the individual Guard in response to a complaint. It was the Guard’s own decision and he wouldn’t have agreed with them on it. He wouldn’t have pursued the complaint himself. When asked about having to eye up every poster at a protest for offensive language and possible arrest he laughed at the idea.

As the topic of free speech becomes more central the Guards are being left without any guidance on it. Nobody up the ladder has decided to start pushing Guards to pursue arrests for offensive language and hate speech. Nobody is directing them not to either. The policing of free speech in Ireland is being made up on the hoof.

Why Now?

We are talking about the 1994 Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act here, a nearly 30-year-old act and yet it’s only in the last short while we’re seeing arrests like these.

Why now? What seems highly relevant is that these arrests are being initiated by complaints from members of the public; it’s only recently that the public, or one element of it, has become aware that there’s a chance of getting someone on our side arrested for holding up a poster.

The encounter on Grafton Street between the American Billboard Guy and a Guard raised awareness of this as an option.

But it’s obvious what the main thing is that’s changed. This is all happening against a backdrop of the government, the opposition and everyone else signalling in recent times that the law is there to silence people whose views you don’t agree with.

In Ireland it is being left up to individual Gardaí, egged on by members of the public, to interpret what is criminally offensive language on a sign.

Common sense says that someone needs to issue the Garda on the street with directions on how to treat a complaint from a member of the public about a protestors sign. A circular from Headquarters, a statement from the Commissioner, the Department of Justice or the Taoiseach – from anybody in authority. That’s the reasonable thing to do.

But given the speech legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas, and the near unanimous support for it from those authorities, it would be very surprising if the Guards do actually hear from anyone. Far easier to let things continue the way they seem to be going and put the responsibility for it on the Guards rather than having to defend it as a policy.

We can be reasonably certain that we haven’t seen the last arrest for holding up a poster at a protest. There’s a certain element out there who will be as delighted as they are surprised by how successful these interventions by members of the public have been in the last month. They’ll be highly encouraged by it. As word gets out about this new reality we can probably expect more and more of us to be getting arrested.

Are you ready?

Posted by Jo Blog


  1. John’s next hearing is in the District Court in Portlaoise at 10.30 on Thursday the 23rd of November.
    A number of people intend to show up in support.


  2. Disturbing. Europe’s biggest shit hole


  3. Anywhere else on the planet has laws as draconian as this farce ?
    Ireland is the wokest parish in the universe .


  4. The @IrlagainstFash twitter account waves a palestinian flag on its account but is worried about LGBT movements being criticised by people holding up signs? Does this twitter account even understand that LGBT people are persecuted in palestine? The account is also anti-nationalism but the palestinian flag itself is an arab conservative nationalism flag, similar to ones used in Syria.

    The palestinian flag is based on Ba’athism, which is an Arab nationalist ideology which promotes the creation and development of nationalist Arab states. Saddam Hussein was a Ba’athist.

    I seriously doubt that these antifa types even know the meaning behind some of the flags they wave about.

    In the State of Palestine, there is no specific, stand-alone civil rights legislation that protects LGBT people from discrimination or harassment.

    Many gay palestinians have been known to flee to Israel so they can have more rights.

    In February 2016, it was reported that one of the leading commanders of the armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Mahmoud Ishtiwi, was executed under the charges that he engaged in homosexual activity and theft.

    If one was concerned about LGBT rights, the last thing they would be doing is waving around islamic Ba’athism palestinian flags.

    These sinn fein antifa types would seem to know nothing about islam, the radical exteremist islamic ideology in Hamas, and the culture of homophobia in palestine and other surrounding islamic regions in the area.

    Sexual activity between members of the same sex is illegal and can be punishable by death in IRAN.

    Iran loves Palestine and Palestine loves Iran.

    Similar cultures.

    Sinn Fein and the dissident republican infiltrated antifa groups marching with islamic people in the palestinian protests should get interesting, especially when sinn fein will bring out the rainbow flag.

    Sinn Fein and Antifa types are only useful idiots to some of the islamists involved in palestinian protests that want sharia law for Ireland.

    One can condemn the palestinian genocide without waving palestinian flags on twitter or marching with islamists who want sharia.

    Sinn Fein marching with islamists and waving around rainbow flags on one hand and a palestinian flag on the other is interesting to say the least. What would be far more interesting though is if they went to palestine or Iran and waved around rainbow flags and had a gay pride parade lol.

    These people are not very well travelled and believe all the worlds cultures are the same. Lol. Shur iranians and palestinians can be irish too, all they need is the tea. This is how Sinn Fein thinks, they do not pay attention to cultural differences. They think all cultures are the same.


  5. Ivaus@thetricolour 07/11/2023 at 1:03 pm

    So basically you say a truth and its treated as hate crime because a fu.kwit
    snowflake deems so.
    ” Israel is bombing the fu.k out of Gaza “, that is a true statement,not a stupid
    fu.king draconion hate speech interpritation,or must we include “fact check ”
    to confuse snowflakes,garda and courts, not too difficult in Lierland today.
    Therefore 1000nds of people should march on Dublin,all displaying the same
    ” IRELANDS FULL ” ( govt own words ) and see whose arrested.
    Beat them at their own game,we’re smarter,lets HUMILATE THE FOOLS.
    I apologise for using Gaza,but its necessary to highlight real concern in
    comparison to dis-dope-iam LIERLAND.


  6. Helen McAfrica (It is our moral and legal obligation to invite the whole world to settle in Ireland receive social welfare, free houses, and goodies) 07/11/2023 at 1:49 pm

    Sorry lads , but in my new IRLagos, i will be watching your speech, as master of your thoughts and governor of your mind, GOVERN-MIND, i decide what is allowed or not allowed as regards to your freedom of speech and expression, i get to decide what is or what is not allowed on a fucking whim.

    So deal with it, I your govern-mind am your better, simple as that my friends. I was elected by a flouridated populace mind controlled by RTE, which allows me to de-facto rule your thoughts and your mind, we have simon COVIDney in charge of RTE.

    He is doing a fantastic job i must say, we silence all opposition who disagree with us, in fact we would never air opposition opinions or thoughts. We only air false opposition like SHIT fein and Richie Void BarHat.

    Who is this prick George Orwell anyway, the FAWR RIGHT quote him a lot see here,

    The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.
    George Orwell


    Free speech is my right to say what you don’t want to hear.
    George Orwell

    Well, if i don’t like what you say GEORGE, then off to the dungeon with my anti-free speech law, fuck this george orwell prick! The cheek of him.


    Real power is achieved when the ruling class controls the material essentials of life, granting and withholding them from the masses as if they were privileges.
    George Orwell

    We as govern-mind during the scamdemic got to decide when you can leave the front door of your house, decide what you can shop for in supermarkets and threatened the removal of your rights for refusal to partake in dangerous experimental injections that have been linked to a rise of excess deaths.

    We as govern-mind even threatened to house third worlders in your houses if we failed to meet our UN immigration targets.

    Well we are govern-mind and we are masters of the UNIVERSE, titular Masters of Ireland in fact. Do as we say, think like we think, and take your clot-shots, remember always to bow in our presence, clap for us and pay for our lavish lifestyles, mortgages, cars and GUCCI hats with your tax.

    As my friends in the GP say (GANGSTERS PARADISE) we just love the lifestyle, the mercs, the BMW’s the mansions, we are living it up large.

    We need more windmills, fuck the countryside, rural backwaters scenery is no match for our cosmopolitian multicultural third world utopia with big-tech draining our electricity needs.

    Word to your momma! Word to more tax being taken from you.


    Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.
    George Orwell

    I as MINISTER OF TRUTH, get to decide what is truth or not truth, NOW BOW peasants, bow to me MUHAHAHAHA, your elected govern-mind!

    ‘No one can get up much enthusiasm for a Government which puts you in jail if you open your mouth’
    George Orwell


    BAN BAN BAN BAN, we as govern-mind like to ban ban ban, we are a NANNY STATE.

    I will be writing up legislation to ban this ORWELL PRICK. MUHAHAHA.

    BURN THE BOOKS, SILENCE free expression is my goal, now enjoy my anti free speech law.


    Helen McAfrica.


  7. Simon HairyAss 07/11/2023 at 2:23 pm

    The absolute cheek of people to consider abortion to be murder, backwaters simpletons i sassssay. Ireland has moved on from a fertile homogenous society into an abortion on demand society. Who needs a fertile homogenous irish society anyway? we have moved on from irish tribalism and sure we can make up for the lack of numbers from an aging and dying ethnic irish population, by implanting LEMPEDUSA in ireland and furthering our agenda of a multucultural utopia with irish people as a minority and living in the streets in the pissing rain.

    Also what could possibly be murderous about RIPPING and TEARING out an unborn living life from a UTERUS with STEEL INSTRUMENTS with on-demand abortion anyway?

    They only just

    use a steel speculum to open the vagina of the women

    give them a numbing shot near the cervix

    insert a thin tube through the cervix into the uterus

    use a small, hand-held device that RIPS out the LIVING tissue out of the uterus

    And use a small surgical tool called a curette to TEAR and RIP out any LIVING tissue that’s left and TOSS it in the bin.

    Now excuse me i have an appointment for a BOOSTER SHOT stabbed into my arm, containing hell knows what.

    Remember folks, take your CLOT-SHOTS from the 666 GATES (Hi Bill) OF HELL itself as it is for the greater good.

    I Simon HairyAss know what is best for your health. Also don’t question me, i am your better as your govern-mind!

    SSSSSSSssssss, SSSSSSsss hiss hiss. Sorry for my lissssp.


  8. Our guards are fast becoming as worthless as the bobbies over in England. Hope that isn’t inciting a breach of the peace.


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