Noel Coonan retracts comment likening water protesters to Isis

Kenny ‘glad’ as Tipperary TD says ‘anarchists’ would be a more appropriate term

A Fine Gael TD has withdrawn comments in which he compared members of the anti-water-charge campaign to Isis jihadi militants.

Noel Coonan yesterday told the Dáil that the State faced an "Isis situation" if water-charge protests such as those in Jobstown, Co Dublin, were allowed to continue.

If the protests aren’t “nipped in the bud” the country faces “what is potentially an Isis situation in the Middle East if those people are allowed get on to do what they’re doing”, the Tipperary TD said.

This morning, Mr Coonan said his comments were “possibly overboard”. He said he would withdraw the comparison, adding, “I suppose ‘anarchists’ would be probably more appropriate than Isis.”


Mr Coonan also clarified his position on Dublin people, saying he had the utmost respect for them. “They are some of the most fantastic people in the world,” he told Newstalk FM.

Yesterday, Mr Coonan said “the protesters in Dublin act like parasites and live off country people as they have never acknowledged the role of country people”.

He said he received death threats after his comments.

Speaking in Cork this morning, where he was heckled by water charges protesters as he arrived for a jobs announcement, Mr Kenny welcomed Mr Coonan’s remarks.

“I am glad that Noel Coonan withdrew his remarks on a national radio station this morning. In a democracy like Ireland democracy applies to everyone. It is perfectly in order for people to express their concerns and their anxieties in a peaceful and legitimate manner.”

“Yes, there have been incidents in the course of the last number of weeks where this might have been a bit rough but, in so far as the language is concerned, I am glad that Noel Coonan withdrew his remarks,” he said. “ I would like people to now focus on what we are about here, which is announcing more jobs as part of Ireland’s message of confidence.

“It is also a measure that the Government did listen but that it certainly didn’t get everything right here. It has dealt with the question of the PPS numbers, of bonus regimes and it has dealt with the question of what happens after 2019.”

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist