SIX protesters, including Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, have been arrested as more than a hundred anti-household charge campaigners stormed a number of local council offices across the country.
Scuffles broke out amongst protesters and gardai in Tallaght, south Dublin when about 35 members of the “Campaign Against House and Water Tax” forced their way into the offices of South Dublin County Council and were ejected by gardai.
A male protester was also arrested on public order offences when he tried to get back into the Galway City Council office after being ejected from the council chambers. He injured his hand when he tried to get back into the building.
Mr Murphy, (29) meanwhile, said he was pinned to the ground by gardai and arrested for disturbing the peace while he was in the middle of a telephone interview with Today FM journalist Matt Cooper on “The Last Word” from inside the council chambers.
“ One guy had his head banged against the wall so I tried to take a picture on my mobile,” the MEP for Dublin said of his arrest.
He has previously organised protests for the “Campaign for Free Education” in 2002, the bin charge and the “Shell To Sea” campaign against the Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo.
He was handcuffed and taken to the Tallaght Garda Station where he and four other protestors were held for about an hour before they were released without charge around 7pm tonight (MON).
Mr Murphy, also a member of the United Left Alliance, said he is considering filing a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman over what he believed was excessive force used against the protestors.
However, Philip Murphy, Director of Corporate Services for South Dublin County Council, claimed that the protesters knocked down a security guard when they barged their way into the council chambers, which is off limits to the public, and noisily disrupted the meeting, waving banners and placards when the meeting got underway at 5pm.
“They effectively forced their way through,” he said.
In Galway, one of about 25 protestors was arrested after he cut his hand trying to get back into the council offices after he and two others left the chambers to go for a cigarette.
“A dispute broke out with protestors and the doorman and eventually gardai intervened and things got a bit heated,” said protester Conor Burke.
“No one else was injured but there was a lot of pushing and shoving,” he said.
About 25 protesters also occupied the atrium of the Fingal County Council offices in Swords, north county Dublin.
“They’re being quite vocal at the moment,” a council spokeswoman said after the protestors entered the public office en masse late this afternoon and refused to leave while the council held its monthly meeting.
However they left without further incident shortly after 7pm.
A similar protest took place inside the offices of Dublin City Council which did not hold a monthly council meeting tonight..
However the protesters remained in the building until it closed shortly before 6pm.