‘Disgraceful’ treatment of Tánaiste was effectively ‘kidnapping’, says Kenny

Minister for the Environment condemns ‘deplorable’ bomb threat

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the treatment of Tánaiste Joan Burton in Tallaght over the weekend as “disgraceful”, adding that behaviour by protestors “almost amounted to kidnapping”.

Speaking at a visit to the Castlebar branch of the Acquire Brain Injury Ireland organisation this afternoon, Mr Kenny said anti-austerity TD Paul Murphy had urged people on at Saturday’s protest in a “non-democratic fashion”.

“If the situation was reversed and a Garda were to detain Deputy Murphy for two hours in his car, he’d have a very different story to tell,” Mr Kenny told RTÉ news.

Ms Burton was trapped in her ministerial car by a crowd of several hundred people during a two-hour protests in Jobstown, Tallaght in Dublin. Two gardaí were injured in the incident.

“What happened in the case of the Tánaiste was disgraceful to say the least,” Mr Kenny said. “What happened in Jobstown amounted almost to kidnapping in a fashion where the Tánaiste, the deputy leader of our country, was locked in her car for over two hours.

“Deputy Murphy has unleashed something that he cannot control himself, this is far more serious than just arguing about what you should pay or not pay.

“When you urge on people who have a different agenda, a far more sinister agenda, and are unable to control it, then clearly the democratic system which we have in this country has to take charge.”

Meanwhile, the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, whose responsibilities include water charges, has described a bomb threat to his constituency office as “deplorable”.

Separately, Gardaí have begun an investigation after two water service vans belonging to Cork County Council were destroyed in an arson attack in Bantry, West Cork at the weekend.

The bomb threat was made this morning by a caller to Mr Kelly’s constituency office in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Gardaí were subsequently called and the staff member who received the threat was interviewed and made a statement to detectives.

“This was a very traumatic and upsetting experience for all staff and the matter has been referred to the gardaí,” Mr Kelly said today in a statement. “I condemn this deplorable behaviour.”

His Labour party colleague Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said his own constituency office was told that he would receive bullets through the door last week.

“My staff and the people who work for me deserve better than that,” he said on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme. “Can we all just take a step back here. It is not democratic protest, it is mob rule.”

“It is perfectly reasonable to have a conversation, but this is a level of intimidation and fear. What is trying to be constructed here is the fear factor for public representatives.”

Gardaí believe the Bantry arson attack took place sometime between midnight and 12.45am yesterday morning at the County Council yard at Newtown in the town.

Gardaí say whoever was responsible climbed over a locked gate to gain entry to the yard before setting fire to the two vans which bore the signage Cork County Council Water Services.

Garda technical experts carried out a forensic examination of the vans to try and establish how the fires were started as well as an examination of the scene for clues as to the identity of the culprits.

According to a Garda source, the two water services vans were the only ones among a fleet of Cork County Council vehicles in the yard which were damaged in the arson attack.

“This seems a very targeted attack given there were several other vehicles in the yard but the only ones that were destroyed were the ones with the Water Services signage,” said the source.

A Cork County Council spokesman confirmed that two vans belonging to the Council’s Water Services section had been damaged in the attack over the weekend.

He confirmed that Cork County Council like other local authorities has a Service Level Agreement with Irish Water to carry out repairs on burst water pipes throughout Cork county. The staff and the vans would have been involved in this general repair work but were not involved in any meter installation which is carried out by contractors hired to do that work by Irish Water.

Cork South West Fine Gael TD Noel Harrington strongly condemned the arson attack in Bantry, describing it as “a very sinister and worrying development”.

“Most of the people who have a grievance against the water charges have protested in a legitimate and proper way but this is a very sinister and worrying development,” he said.

“If somebody is willing to engage in a criminal act, causing criminal damage to council property, it makes you wonder what else are they willing to do and at what point do they say stop.”

Mr Harrington said the action was not only counter-productive for those wishing to protest against water charges but also showed scant regard for the people and businesses of Bantry.

“Bantry has suffered from under investment in its water infrastructure over the years to the point that it has a poorer water supply infrastructure than any other town I can think of,” he said.

“Leaks are almost a monthly occurrence in Bantry, resulting in the supply being knocked out or restricted to householders and businesses in the town – it really is a very serious problem.

“And then some idiot goes and does this – could you think of anything more stupid and dense to do when you have a problem with a supply system than to go and destroy the repair vehicles?

“All it does is hamper the Trojan work being done by county council operatives- men and women – who are doing their level best to maintain a proper supply after years of underinvestment.”