Ben Gilroy hands over the DDI reins to concentrate on legal matters
At the recent Direct Democracy Ireland AGM Ben Gilroy made the surprise announcement that he wished to step down as party leader. In his speech he cited a number of personal reasons, in particular his own court case, which together meant he could not dedicate the time required to fulfill the role to a satisfactory level in the run up to the May elections. In his stead he nominated one of the founder members of Direct Democracy Ireland, Jan Van De Ven, to succeed him and this was unanimously approved by the members.
Jan has been promoting Direct Democracy as a political reform solution in Ireland for about 10 years. In addition, Jan represented Ireland at the first Global Direct Democracy Conference in Aarau, Switzerland and is a founding member of a worldwide coalition for Direct Democracy in Brussels, Belgium, Democracy International. Also, through the Swiss Initiative & Referendum Institute of Europe he attended workshops in Reykjavik, Iceland, to help the post-crash Icelandic government deepen their understanding of Direct Democracy, which the Icelandic citizens have chosen for their new constitution as the best way forward for their country.
Ben Gilroy explained that his ability to commit full time to the leader’s role has been severely hampered by his contempt of court case. He believes, as do many, that the case brought against him was orchestrated as a political assassination. This has been stated openly in court. The fact that he was singled out from over 200 people on the day points to this conclusion. It is also perhaps a little too coincidental that this case was initiated in the run up to the Seanad referendum, effectively knocking him out of the debate in which DDI canvassed successfully for a ‘No’ vote regardless.
The tactics of those bringing the case seem to be designed to either disadvantage Mr Gilroy, or delay the proceedings for as long as possible. For instance on each occasion a court date is set the prosecution deem it appropriate to serve new papers or affidavits to Mr Gilroy’s home the night before. It has been stated in court that this is an abuse of process and the judge has agreed, adjourning the case despite protests from the Plaintiffs.
The latest appearance on 7th February resulted in the case being set for a hearing on 28th March. The judge remarked that the case is entirely a civil matter, which begs the question if it is not a criminal matter why was Mr Gilroy arrested and detained in the first place, if not for a media show? The result of all this is that a case that should have been quickly resolved, drags on for months keeping Ben occupied in the run up to the May elections.
Ben quipped that “you know you must be on the right track when the state comes after you with the full force of their banks, receivers, police, solicitors and with a full media circus. They must be worried we are waking the people up to their dirty secrets”. When asked about his upcoming case he smiled and said that “they are in for a big surprise”.
He continued “In essence the powers have in part accomplished their goal in keeping me busy, but in reality all they have achieved is to make it very obvious how the system treats people who stand against it”.
Ben commented on how the media will portray his case saying “It’s interesting isn’t it now they can actually see me speaking in court there are no more reports about me using ‘unorthodox methods’ in court shall we say. I wonder will they apologise for their previous inferences made without even seeing me in action?”
The upshot of all this has been to galvanise the membership and supporters behind Jan. It will also free up more time for Ben to run his own DDI election campaign this spring, while continuing to help other people in court against the banks. Ben will continue to be a spokesman for DDI and is looking forward to canvassing the Irish people to vote for change in the upcoming election.
While summing up the AGM Jan van de Ven accepted his new leadership role saying: “To me it is very clear that the economic and political solutions to the issues that currently plague Ireland are with its sovereign people, and not with the politicians who represent them. Politicians are willing to say anything to get your vote. As long as the Irish political system continues as it is nothing will change. We at DDI know that Direct Democracy is the political reform solution needed at this time”