Decision to refuse permit not ‘blanket ban’ on AAA

By Echo Reader

Dear Editor,

District Court judge Michael Coghlan upheld the decision of a senior Garda to refuse an Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor a permit for door-to-door and street collection, agreeing with the decision of Division Chief Supt Orla McPartlin to refuse Cllr Mick Murphy a permit, stating it was fair and reasonable and did not breach his constitutional rights.

An application for a collection permit was made on the prescribed form, pursuant to Section 5(2) of Street and House to House Collection Act 1962.

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David Langwallner, BL, for AAA, said it was a “blanket ban” or “carte blanche refusal” of a permit obvious from the letter of refusal issued by the Chief Superintendent in which she referred to previous protests involving the AAA and the possibility of future protests.

He argued the decision targeted a political party and attacked constitutional rights, including the right to stand for election, as it banned fundraising for an election campaign.

Chief Supt McPartlin refused the application pursuant to Section 9 of the Act because in her opinion the proceeds of the collection or any portion thereof would be used in a manner as to encourage either directly or indirectly the commission of an unlawful act.

Counsel for An Garda Síochána, Peter Leonard, BL, said the decision to refuse a permit was not a ‘blanket ban’ on the AAA as the force recognised AAA as a political party to collect funds and the Chief Supt gave reasons in good faith in a “singular decision” made about Mr Murphy’s application and not one aimed directly at AAA. 

Judge Coghlan was satisfied with respect to her policing experience arriving at the conclusion not only in a fair and reasonable manner but with regard to Constitutional principles of fairness.

AAA may stage an application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings, challenging the decision.

Meanwhile, AAA TD, Paul Murphy did a U-turn, admitting he grudgingly paid local property tax LPT and penalties in the sum of €1,151, including €200 household charge as part of a legal requirement to sell his Ballinteer €225,000 apartment, occasioned by his move to Kingswood estate, which he described as “deeply unfair,” adding: “The reality is the boycott on property tax has finished.”

Yours sincerely, 
Gerry Coughlan, 
Parkhill West, Dublin

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