Noel Coonan say water protesters ‘act like parasites and live off country people’

Tipperary North TD says protesting ‘needs to be nipped in the bud’

A Fine Gael TD has claimed Ireland is facing an "Isis situation" if water charge protests such as those in Jobstown, Co Dublin, are allowed to continue. Noel Coonan described the scene last weekend when Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car by protesters for more than two hours as "disgraceful".

He said the protesters in Dublin “act like parasites and live off country people”, who pay for water through group schemes and private wells. People were horrified by the protests and this “has been an awakening call for them”. He was speaking in the Dáil during the two-day debate on water charges.

The Tipperary North TD said protesting “needs to be nipped in the bud”. If not, “we are facing what is potentially an Isis situation in the Middle East if those people are allowed get on to do what they’re doing”.

His party colleague Catherine Byrne said she was disappointed to see new TD Paul Murphy "claim with a grin on his face that he had arranged an agreement with the protesters to let the Tánaiste go.


“What a pathetic way to begin one’s career in politics,” she said. “This is not the Middle East. We live in a democratic society.”

The Dublin South Central TD staunchly defended the role of gardaí.

Ms Byrne, whose son is a member of the force, said his one thought when he put on his uniform every day was “to uphold the law and protect people living in communities”. She asked the Opposition: “How would you like your son or daughter to be spat at, kicked in the shins and verbally abused? I have never heard such abuse before and it is wrong.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times