People like Je Suis Derek Byrne annoy me. I won’t go as far as saying that I dislike the man; I hardly even know him. He did take the trouble a year ago to troll me on social media because I aired my opinions of his Dublin Says No group. People like Derek, even during the years of economic prosperity in Ireland, have resisted the allure of gainful employment – preferring to remain on the lunatic fringe of the protest movement; finding causes where and when there were none. Now that the whole nation is up in arms people like Je Suis Derek feel the need to become ever more idiotic to keep the limelight they feel they have kept for decades. In reality their actions have been ill-thought and dangerous to the real protest movement. Ordinary, decent people decide to stay at home – even when their voices are needed most – because of people like Derek. Nevertheless the decision by the middle class judiciary to put him in prison for his resistance to the water charges has been troubling to say the least. It has made a martyr out of a rogue, and now we read that he has gone on hunger strike – how perfectly Bobby of him.

Ireland’s middle class [in]justice system has chosen to deal with protest with the iron fist. The middle class political élite and the middle class judges have decided that the victims of the middle class financial sector’s economic treason will pick up the bill no matter what. True to form they have started putting people in prison cells; making the point that any resistance to the middle class agenda will come at a price. It will work – at least for some. The polite, ‘squeezed middle’ that has newly arrived on the protest scene (and who managed not to be scared off by the lunacy of Je Suis Derek) will grab what testicles they have left and go scurrying back off to their trust funds. Those people never go to prison for the sake of the plebs. Where this threat of imprison will not work will be on those people who face prison as a consequence of their class and social vulnerability anyway. In promising to make martyrs out of desperate people the government has done little more than sign its own execution warrant. The simple truth is that the judges – who are now investing in Irish Water – cannot gaol the whole country. I won’t be at all surprised if they give it their best shot.

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