Thursday 19 October 2017

Ugly scenes as Rabbitte confronted by protesters in pub

Louise Hogan and Fiach Kelly

THERE were ugly scenes in a pub just a stone’s throw from the Dail as anti-austerity protesters confronted Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

Protesters jostled Mr Rabbitte downstairs in Doheny and Nesbitts on Dublin’s Baggot Street, as upstairs Minister Brendan Howlin was attending a reception with officials from the IMF.

However, none of the protesters attempted to gain access to the gathering with the IMF and it is unclear whether they were aware it was taking place.

Gardai were called to the pub after Mr Rabbitte was cornered and surrounded by up to 50 chanting protesters at the back of the popular drinking house.

Mr Rabbitte had initially been drinking outside the pub with politicians and government advisers when he was spotted by three protesters who appeared to be members of republican group Eirigi.

They then called in other protesters who were already outside the Dail and the entire group marched up Merrion Row to confront the minister.

Seeing the group approach, Mr Rabbitte sought refuge inside the pub but they followed him down to the back of the premises and surrounded him.

One onlooker described some protesters as “vicious”, and told how an off-duty garda intervened after a woman appeared to be moving to assault the minister.

Up to 50 protesters shouted abuse at Mr Rabbitte at back of Doheny and Nesbitts for between 10 to 15 minutes. Among the slogans being shouted were “run rabbit run” and “shame on you”.

Among the posters they were carrying were ‘Dublin Says No - Property tax and Austerity’, while another showed an image of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and another stated ‘Tax the Rich not the Poor’

Gardai were called and removed them from the scene. There were no arrests. It is understood one person may have been knocked over, but there were no injuries reported.

It is not the first time the minister was confronted in a public place. Mr Rabbitte was previously accosted while having a lunch in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin City Centre.

He stayed for a short time after the protesters were removed from the pub before returning to the Dail to cast a vote. As he left the pub, Mr Rabbitte told how the protesters had originally been outside the Dail but then followed him up to the pub. He said it wasn’t a major incident.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan arrived afterwards, followed shortly afterwards by John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance. It is understood they joined the IMF reception.

It is the favoured haunt of politicians as they also took International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde to the famous watering hole on another occasion.

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