Water charge protesters accused of thuggery by Labour Senator

John Kelly says gardaí ‘spat on by thugs’ when they tried to clear O’Connell Street

Senator John Kelly said some water charge protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration wanted nothing but to ‘create anarchy’. File  photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Senator John Kelly said some water charge protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration wanted nothing but to ‘create anarchy’. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Labour Senator John Kelly accused some of those on Wednesday’s protest march against water charges of thuggery.

Mr Kelly said he complimented those who participated in Merrion Square, Dublin, where the protest seemed more like a concert. However, he said, at 2.30 pm on O’Connell Street, a few hundred people decided to bring the entire city to a standstill.

Mr Kelly said people on their way to hospital appointments could not move. At 6 pm, he said he met elderly people with grandchildren who could not get home because buses were not running and taxis were not moving.

“When gardaí eventually arrived to move the protesters off the streets, they were spat on by thugs who want to do nothing but create anarchy,’’ Mr Kelly said.

“Their behaviour was absolutely outrageous.’’

‘Ridiculous’

Independent Senator David Norris said the record should show the protest was completely peaceful, as had been acknowledged by gardaí.

“To characterise the people who peacefully and democratically protested as thugs is ridiculous,’’ he said.

Mr Kelly said: “Unlike Senator Norris, I was on O’Connell Street yesterday and saw the thugs who wanted nothing other than to cause anarchy in this country.’’

Michael Mullins of Fine Gael said the House should debate on how protests were organised, particularly those held during the working week.

“While I acknowledge and accept the right of anybody to engage in peaceful protest, it is not right that people should be severely discommoded while going about their daily business or trying to get to hospital appointments,’’ he said.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said the protest was “a really uplifting rally, with tens of thousands of people coming on a cold night, in the middle of the week to march and engage in protest in a very peaceful and family-friendly way’’.