Thursday 8 December 2016

Chaotic scenes at Leinster House as protesters block Oireachtas members exit

Published 01/07/2015 | 20:33

THE Garda Commissioner has been notified after dramatic scenes outside the Dail forced two Government senators to abandon their vehicles.

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A combined demonstration against water charges and the situation in Greece descended into chaos tonight after Oireachtas members were abused and threatened as they tried to exit the premises.

Former justice minister Alan Shatter criticised the policing of the protest after he was blocked for several minutes as he attempted to enter the Leinster House carpark yesterday evening.

“I had abuse and insults hurled at me. My car was thumped and kicked by some protesters. It was a clear example of thuggery,” the Fine Gael TD told independent.ie.

But as the evening drew on, a large section of the congregated staged a sit-in protest which caused traffic chaos on the busy city street.

There were dramatic scenes after two Labour senators - Mary Moran and Derek Landy - were forced to abandon their vehicles on Kildare Street.

Ms Moran, who is a Louth-based General Election candidate, said the experience was extremely distressing for her and her parliamentary assistant who was in the vehicle at the time.

The assistant was visibly upset afterwards.

"I have never experienced anything like this. It was totally disgraceful to see the gards attacked in that manner ," Ms Moran told independent.ie

At least one garda officer was injured and received medical treatment after she was hit by a traffic cone.

Meanwhile Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is to be asked to appear in Leinster House explain the garda operation that was put in place.

TDs have been critical of the decision not to place railings around the entrance to Leinster House as is the norm during large protests.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter was blocked in his car for up to 15 minute as he tried to get into the Dáil. There was a standoff between some of the demonstrators and gardai who had called for reinforcements and some 40 officers were on duty.

Mr Shatter  claimed that TDs and senators were precluded from entering leaving Leinster House in their vehicles as is their constitutional right to do so.

Protesters obstruct car of former minister Alan Shatter outside Dail  

“To allow this sort out conduct and to regard is as acceptable is step on the road to fascism,” he added.

It’s emerged that the Committee for Procedure and Privileges (CPP) discussed the garda operation at a meeting yesterday evening.

Sources say it was suggested that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan be asked to attend Leinster House immediately to discuss the matter.

Mr Shatter also asked the Ceann Comhairle to bring the issue to the Commissioner’s attention.

Sources say senior gardai previously attended a CPP meeting and assured members that there would be no situation whereby TDs and senators were prevented from leaving or entering Leinster House.

The organisers said the protest was a response to the Government rushing further water charges legislation through the Dáil this week. Environment Minister Alan Kelly has introduced a number of amendments to the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.

These include setting up a database for the water conservation grant and the blocking of a house sale until water charges are paid.  The law, which is now being finalised, will also oblige local authority tenants to pay their water charges.

Some 70pc of householders had registered with Irish Water by this week’s deadline and this allows them claim a €100 water conservation grant from the Social Protection Department. It is still not known how many people have paid their first water bills.

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