Dáil unrest as gardaí and protesters clash

 

PROTESTERS clashed with gardaí last night as they tried to gain access to the main concourse of Leinster House.

At least five of the protesters received minor head injuries as a result of the skirmish shortly before 9pm, according to organisers. One garda also sustained an injury to his face.

The group was a smaller part of a larger rally calling on the Government to prioritise job provision and public services over bank recapitalisation.

A contingency security plan was put in place as soon as an attempt was made by a section of the crowd to storm the front gates.

The gates and front door of Leinster House were closed.

The small group of protesters were stopped by gardaí from entering the building or grounds, an Oireachtas spokesman said.

The tense standoff ended as rally leaders appealed for a peaceful protest. A Garda spokesman said it had been brought under control “within a matter of minutes” and the march had been policed “appropriately”.

Socialist Workers’ Party representative Mary Smith said she received a blow to the head when she and others attempted to gain access to the front concourse of Leinster House through the gate.

Some 800 people had attended the rally of a “Right to Work” campaign, which is backed by the Unite trade union and involves a coalition of community groups, young unemployed and other activists.

The march travelled from the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square to the Dáil.

The Government would be remembered in history for ignoring the basic needs of the people, Janette Byrne of Patients Together told the rally.

Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit Alliance wanted it to be the first step in a campaign against Government policies which he said had caused the economic crisis.