Ó Cuív defends Galway protest actions


Minister for Gaeltacht and Community Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has defended his actions after he was accused of manhandling a protester in Galway last night.

Mr Ó Cuív and Minister for Education Batt O’Keefe were confronted by protesters against education cutbacks at NUI Galway when students attempted to delay access to a university building as the Ministers sought to attend an official funcion.

However, Mr Ó Cuív said he acted in defence of his secretary who had been threatened by an individual who was wielding "a piece of timber" and had to act to defend his secretary and himself.

"I think I was right to defend my secretary. She was very, very upset because one of the protesters had a piece of timber. And it was the second time in a week that she had been intimidated by some of the same students because they forcibly entered my office last week. They occupied my office and there was only female staff there at the time," Mr Ó Cuív said in an interview with RTÉ radio this morning.

A spokeswoman for Mr O'Cuiv later said the protesters crushed Mr O Cuív’s secretary against a wall and kicked

“The secretary was squashed up against the wall with students kicking her and one of them waving a big stick at her,” the spokeswoman said.

Students Union president Muireann O’Dwyer, who attended the protest said it was a peaceful demonstration and criticised Mr O'Cuív's "overreaction".

"It was unnecessary for the Minister to engage physically with the student, and really showed a lack of composure on his part," she said.

The protest was organised in collaboration between the NUI Galway Students’ Union, and the group FEE (Free Education for Everyone) which has recently been established in the University.