Gardaí draw batons at Government Buildings

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PROTEST:PROTESTERS AGAINST the Government’s handling of the economic crisis yesterday forced their way into the grounds of Government Buildings in Dublin.

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

Television footage showed the Dublin South Central TD caught up in scuffles between the demonstrators and gardaí, as gardaí sought to push back protesters carrying banners during the protest organised by Sinn Féin.

A number of people pushed their way through the Government Buildings gates as far as the glass-walled reception buildings inside the entrance. A sit-down protest was attempted for about five minutes. According to gardaí, protesters attempted to get through, but were “stopped in their efforts” to get to the Taoiseach’s office.

The group was then escorted out by gardaí, who maintained a highly visible presence after the incident.

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 were no arrests.

Gardaí drew batons and hit protesters who attempted to stage the sit-in, 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.

Earlier, the lunchtime protest 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-year plan, call an immediate general election and let the people decide,” he said.

A number of international media organisations were camped opposite Government Buildings yesterday, and there were a number of other protesters there. 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.

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