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The campaign against the Public Assemblies Bill is gathering pace

The campaign against the Public Assemblies Bill is gathering pace, the closer we get to the end of the consultation period. The campaign has organized a major march and rally to take place on the 26th June 2010.

We already know that the proposals are an outrage. If this draft bill did become law, we would have the most draconian legislation in the whole of Europe regarding the right to free assembly and the right to protest. We are not going to allow that to happen. The 26th June is our opportunity to make that clear to the Assembly. We need to make the 26th June as big as possible.

parades and protest bill northner ireland
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Many people are still not aware of what is being proposed. We need to continue to get the message out there to the trade unions, campaign groups, community activists, our work colleagues, friends and family, all of whom would be affected by the legislation.

There are a number of meetings and activities organized to build the Campaign and to organize for the 26 June (details below). Please feel free to get involved in the activities that have already been organised. Alternatively, please contact the group if you want help organizing an activity in your own local area or if you want to obtain posters, leaflets and other campaign materials.

Meanwhile, the Campaign continues to grow. Last week NIPSA – the biggest Public Sector trade union in Northern Ireland passed an emergency motion at its annual conference condemning the Bill and supporting the campaign against it. A fringe meeting was held at conference publicising the campaign. This has helped to galvanise a protest in Newry (see below).

Those who have been proposing and supporting the Bill have resorted to using all sorts of arguments to attempt to diffuse the anger that is clearly out there. The people who have proposed and who are supporting the Bill are extremely worried by our Campaign. They are desperate to prevent people from mobilizing against it.

They are organizing meetings with community and union leaders to stop them uniting behind this campaign. They are saying that the draft Bill is badly worded or that it will be severely amended or that certain groups will be named and exempted from the Bill when it becomes law. In other words they are saying “trust us to sort this out”. How could we trust them? These are the same people who actually proposed it in the first place. It is important that the community and trade union leaders are not taken in by the empty assurances of those who are trying to remove our rights. There is an obligation on their part to show leadership and resolve and to play their part in building the campaign. The truth is that without this campaign, many of them would not even know about the Bill in the first instance.

The argument is still the same. The Bill is an outrage – it removes our basic right to assemble. It is an attack on one of the most fundamental civil liberties that we have. No amount of amendments or exemptions can change the premise on which it has been put together. It has to be scrapped. We encourage everybody in the group to publicise and join the protests. KILL THE BILL

Wednesday 9th June – 7pm at Ballynafeigh Community Centre, Ormeau Road, South Belfast

Thursday 10th June – 7pm at Culturlann, Falls Road, West Belfast

Meetings in Lisburn and North Belfast will be held the following week – get in touch if you want to help organize either of these or one in your own area.

Defend the right to protest – Defend the right to public assembly. March & Rally – 12pm Saturday 26 June, Art College Gardens, Belfast

Protest against the Public Assemblies Bill in Newry, Friday 25 June at 12.30 pm outside Newry Town Hall. Event organised by Newry and District Council of Trade Unions