Truck driven at Leinster House gates

 

A 41-year-man was arrested after a concrete truck was driven into the gates of Leinster House early this morning.

The slogans 'Toxic Bank Anglo', “€1,000,000 on golf balls” and “€500K for golf” were displayed on the side of the truck and the vehicle registration number changed to “bankrupt”.

The man, who is from Co Mayo and has been involved in similar protests in recent months, parked at the entrance to the Dáil, locked his cabin before climbing onto the roof of the truck.

He then attempted to open makeshift doors on the back of the truck to reveal a protest banner but gardaí arrested him at about 7.15am.

No one was injured in the incident and only minor damage caused to the paintwork of Leinster House’s gates. The side windows in the cab of the truck were smashed as gardaí tried to detain him.

The man was taken to Pearse Street Garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 where he is still being held. A garda spokesman said the station had received numerous calls from members of the public with the vast majority offering congratulations and support for the man.

A number of protestors gathered out side the station calling for the man to be released. Brendan Meehan from Artane carried a banner stating: "Release Joe the truck driver."

Mr Meehan said: "I felt this is where I should be. We need a leader and the person I'd be glad to follow is in that jail. I just want that man to know I'm here to support him."

By 5pm, Mr Meehan had been joined by about seven others, including Sarah Maguire from Wicklow, a mother of one set up her own architecture practice in 2006.

"My business hasn't traded in a year," she said. "I'm living with my parents and surviving on children's allowence. I can't afford to tax my car. You're always looking for hope, but I can't see any."

Phil Derwin from Artane and his wife Sandra also joined the group of supporters. Mr Derwin who lost his job at SR Technics 18 months ago said of Mr McNamara: "He was great to do what he did. More people need to stand up and protest."

The truck remained outside the Dáil for over two hours as gardaí and recovery crews struggled to move it. It is understood the brake lines and electric cables had been tampered with to immobilise the vehicle.

At 9.35am recovery crews managed to remove the vehicle by using a large recovery tow truck.

Kildare Street and Molesworth Street were both closed to traffic during the operation.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said that at least one garda on duty had to jump out of the way of the truck.

“If it had been later in the morning, staff could have been killed, public could have been killed,” said Mr O’Dowd, who was on the scene this morning. “I think it’s a very serious incident and I think it’s an appalling vista to be doing your job as a garda or usher in Dáil Éireann and to be seriously injured.”

An Oireachtas spokesman said the incident did not affect proceedings as the Dáil resumed sitting after the summer recess. He said the pedestrian access at the front gates was not damaged and alternative vehicle access was provided at the rear of the building on Merrion Street.

The incident was quickly dubbed 'Cementgate' on the social networking site Twitter. Contributors unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of 'cementgate' jokes and posted pictures from the scene.

In April, a cement mixer truck, with similar wording on it, was abandoned outside a branch of the bank on Forster Street, Galway. The cabin was locked and the engine left running.