Protest in Government Building grounds

Mon, Nov 22, 2010, 00:00

A group of demonstrators protesting against the Government's handling of the economic crisis forced its way into a security area at Government Buildings in Dublin today.

Some 50 people including Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh, protested outside Government Buildings on Merrion Street at lunchtime, shouting: "Cowen, Cowen, Cowen. Out, out, out!"

BBC News footage showed the Dublin South Central TD caught up in scuffles between the demonstrators and gardaí. Video showed gardaí attempting to push back a crowd of shouting protesters carrying banners during the protest organised by Sinn Féin.

According to gardaí, protesters attempted to get through but were "stopped in their efforts" to get to the Taoiseach's office, a Garda spokesman said.

Police drew batons and hit protesters who attempted to stage a sit-in inside the grounds, protester Luke Stynes (29) said. Another man said there had been "a fair amount of pushing and shoving" and said he had been struck across the legs by a garda.

Some 40 people pushed their way through as far as the glass-walled reception buildings just inside the Government Buildings gates. A sit-down protest was attempted for four to five minutes.

They group was then escorted out by gardaí, who maintained a highly visible presence after the demonstration. Police vans and gardaí on motorbikes attended the scene, and at least 15 gardaí stood in a line across the large gates to the grounds. There are no reports of arrests as of now.

Earlier, the Sinn Féin lunchtime protest, comprising some 150 people, had made its way around from Kildare Street to Merrion Street.

Speaking during the protest, Mr Ó Snodaigh, the party's social protection spokesman, said the Government had no mandate to implement its planned cuts to social welfare payments and should call a general election immediately.

The Government, as usual, is targeting the least well off to pay for this mess. But they have absolutely no mandate for any of what they are doing. The Green Party should have pulled out of Government today and allowed for an immediate general election.

"The Government should now publish its four plan, call an immediate general election and let the people decide," he said.

A number of international media organisations were camped opposite Government buildings today, and there were a number of independent protesters at the gates.

On one side of the entrance, a woman held a sign reading "FF traitors out now", while at the other, a man brandished a placard that carried a warning the world would end for all and the IMF.