Remembering Declan Kane – Water charges activist & victorious Jobstown defendant

By Councillor Kieran Mahon

On 12 August friends and family said goodbye to Declan Kane. Declan is survived by his wife Lorraine, children Conor and Nicole, his parents, three siblings and four grandchildren. Deco was a family man to his core. 

They can be immensely proud of him and the role he played in defending them and their community against the economic attacks implemented by Government austerity and against the political attacks launched by gardai, the courts, and the political hacks following the Jobstown Protest in 2014. That came at the high point of the political mass movement that smashed water charges and opened up the vista for real political change in Ireland. 

Leadership and example

At a time when “law and order” is again high on the political agenda it is worth remembering what Declan and other defendants in The Jobstown Trials actually did on the day of Joan Burton’s extraordinarily arrogant and tone-deaf visit to Jobstown. The austerity policies and political betrayal of Burton’s Labour Party, particularly attacks on working class women and families, resulted in a mostly spontaneous explosion of political expression. 

But this was given form, shape, and direction by people like Declan and Lorraine Kane. Both were prominent among the group of people who, despite not all necessarily knowing each other beforehand,  ensured that the protest was characterised by consistent political chanting , organised sit-down protests and measured defiance in response to Garda intimidation. And they did this without ever questioning the legitimacy of people’s anger.

Getting to the truth 

With Gardai then covering their own ineptitude and trying to shape the political narrative by turning blame on protesters this approach would turn out to be crucial. It was these very factors that, when presented to a jury of working-class peers, ensured that the initial 7 defendants were found not guilty, forcing all subsequent charges including those trumped up against Declan for False Imprisonment and Violent Disorder, to be withdrawn, and the State being dealt a massive defeat by the fighting approach of the Jobstown Not Guilty Campaign. 

Declan with fellow victorious Jobstown Not Guilty defendants and supporters

Seeing the importance of politics

Declan was one of twenty-four defendants strategically targeted to face the Criminal Courts of Justice and the Childrens Courts. Importantly, he was also a key part of the group of defendants that maintained a tight bond and helped to organise fundraising activities, built community support, and made sure that local and national demonstrations were successful and vibrant. That Declan could do this despite the pressures of the trial speaks hugely positively to his ability to grasp the need for an organised fightback to the state’s smear campaign against his community, the water charges movement, and the Left. Declan was a key part in maintaining the morale of that group. He and Lorraine brought out the impact of the completely unjustified dawn raids and media and political attacks on the wider group of defendants.

Taking inspiration

In the middle of it all Declan always had a smile and a funny word. He was delighted to meet high profile supporters like Paddy Hill or Don Baker but was just as in awe of the many people from trade unions and communities across Dublin who came out and supported the defendants inside and outside the courts. Declan’s attitude was living proof that it is mass movements, built on working class communities’ irrepressible fighting spirit that offer the most serious threat to the current disorder of inequality and oppression.

Declan and his contributions to the movements we fought in together will be remembered by us all. But also, they serve as an example to others to step forward into activity, to value your contribution and to never back away from defending the actions of a community against the economic and social violence perpetrated to protect the profit margins and power of a tiny minority. 

That is a hugely inspiring idea to everyone who values the need for fundamental change in this country and internationally. Thank you Declan. All our solidarity and love to Declan’s family.

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