Cultural Resistance Mayday Mayday

Billboard at Project Art Centre, Dublin.

This billboard was erected for Mayday 2005, traditionally a day of workers’ demonstrations and celebrations around the world.

On Mayday 2003, Gardaí were seen removing their identification numbers and caught on camera attacking demonstrators as well as onlookers on Dame Street in Dublin. The event led to huge public protest and the Gardaí were forced to investigate the event. During internal investigations, Gardaí failed to identify their colleagues involved in the incidents. This led to numerous calls from the public for an independent ombudsman to be set up, to investigate complaints made against the Gardaí.

On Mayday 2004, Gardaí were visibly present on the streets, with video cameras to record demonstrators and members of the public. Many people objected to this, as they felt it was an infringement on the democratic right to demonstrate. On the same day, in an act of resistance, the artist recorded the Gardaí engaged in acts of surveillance. An image of the recording was made into a billboard, in an attempt to hold it up for scrutiny in a public space.

The billboard was erected on the exterior wall of the Project Art Centre, Dublin, at a time when there was much public debate about the police force in Ireland. Rather than responding to the call for an independent ombudsman, the government was introducing a controversial new Criminal Justice bill, which would see additional powers given to the Gardaí. At the same time that the image was on display, a short distance away from the billboard site, the full scale of Garda corruption in Ireland during the 1990s and 2000s was beginning to emerge, through the Morris Tribunal in Dublin Castle.