THE PHOTOGRAPH THE IRISH POLICE DIDN’T WANT ME TO TAKE


harassment of photographers because of terrorists is nothing new. I have been watching events in the UK with some interest, as I’ve had experience of it myself. In Dublin. In 1983.

Over a period of some days I was told that I couldn’t take photographs, here, there and practically everywhere, and by the time I took this image I’d had being told where I could and couldn’t shoot, and I was ready to argue.

The mural on the wall was part of a much longer painting that covered the wall of a large warehouse in a street a couple of blocks from O’Connell Street.  As I walked into the street I saw a policeman sitting in a small box near the entrance, but took no notice as I was intent on shooting the mural.

There was nothing sneaky about me, I had a camera bag and a couple of Nikons around my neck, so I looked like what I was … a tourist taking photographs But as soon as I started using the camera the policeman accosted me, saying that I couldn’t take pictures.

I’d checked on the local law relating to street photography and knew what was permissible to I demanded to know why. His reply was rather startling. Apparently the Dublin criminal court where IRA terrorists were tried was further up the street and the authorities thought that any one taking pics must be casing the joint. For a rescue attempt? Bombing? He didn’t know.

When I pointed out that I didn’t know where the court was, didn’t care and only wanted to photograph the mural he simply said ” well, I didn’t see you then,” and left me happily clicking away.

Later when I walked past the court-house,  it turned out to be an unremarkable building that I wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t mentioned it.

Looking back on it I probably shouldn’t have been so aggressive, but it does show that knowing ones rights is a help but checking whether there are any specific restrictions is helpful … after all a friend of mine was arrested in Taiwan for photographing a cow. It turned out to be a military cow, or at least a cow grazing on military property.

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