Burton was warned not to go to Tallaght - protesters
Published 15/08/2015 | 02:30
The Labour Party has dismissed claims that Tánaiste Joan Burton was told not to attend the graduation ceremony she spoke at before the controversial water charge protest, which saw her trapped in her car for two hours last year.
Protesters, who believe they are facing criminal charges, said some of the graduates refused to shake the Tánaiste's hand on the day of the ceremony at An Cosán college in Jobstown, Tallaght, and Ms Burton knew she was not wanted at the event.
However, a Labour spokesman insisted the Tánaiste was welcome and said the students were "very enthusiastic" about the visit.
"She was invited by An Cosán to attend an event to mark the achievement of the students," he said.
"She met with students that day and spoke in detail to them about their course work and future prospects and they were very enthusiastic to have her there," he added.
An Cosán CEO Maura McMahon said the Tánaiste was welcome but "attendees were unnerved, as were staff, by activities occurring outside the event".
"An Cosán is disappointed that this graduation has again been drawn into a debate which it is not involved in in any shape or form," she said.
A group of protesters joined socialist TD Paul Murphy at a press conference in Brookfield Community Centre in Jobstown, Tallaght to discuss the impending criminal charges they face.
Carole Purcell said the protest started when Ms Burton decided to walk through the crowd after the graduation ceremony. "They said weeks before they didn't want her at the ceremony but they weren't listened to. In fact, they refused to shake her hand and refused to take certificates from her," she said.
Protesters Frank Donaghy, Paul Kiernan and Keith Preston also spoke at the press conference.
Some of the protesters sought to distance themselves from Mr Murphy's claim that people in Jobstown "hated" Ms Burton. Mr Preston said he did not "personally hate Ms Burton", and Ms Purcell said she did not "hate anybody".
"We don't like her policies, we don't hate anybody," Ms Purcell said.