Gardai called to anti-tax protest
GARDAI were called a protest by anti-Household Tax campaigners at the Fermoy office of Fine Gael Cork East TD Tom Barry last Friday - but both sides emerged from the incident claiming they are willing to meet again to discuss their differences.
Denis O'Brien, a member of Mallow Campaign Against Household and Water Tax and Fermoy No to Austerity groups this week told The Corkman that he and a number of members of the protest groups attended Deputy Barry's office at approximately 4pm on Friday.
Mr O'Brien said that while he was alone when he first entered the office, a further dozen or so members of the group then came to join him, at which point Deputy Barry asked that they leave.
Speaking to The Corkman, Deputy Barry said that he was with a constituent at the time, and was concerned that some protestors were taking photographs inside his office when the constituent's personal information was on his desk. He said the initial stages of the protest were intimidating to those in the office at the time, and that some members of the group refused to give their names when asked.
"I got a bit cross and I reacted, but I would say we both did things we shouldn't have. The situation could have spiralled and my PA called the Gardai as we were concerned that there was a security issue. But in the end a lot more good came from it than bad," he said.
"These are voting citizens and it is my responsibility to listen and engage with them," he added.
After gardai attended the scene, it was agreed that four of the group would stay in the office to address their concerns, while the rest of the campaigners continued their protest outside.
Mr O'Brien said the group's discussion with Deputy Barry centred on their concerns surrounding the Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, the liquidation of the IBRC and the future of the Mallow Sugar Factory. He said the group are willing to meet with Deputy Barry again.
"We assured Tom that we would support the Government, as always, to run our country properly as promised, but we would not pay Penal Taxes to bail our bondholders," Mr O'Brien said.
A spokesperson for Fermoy Gardai confirmed that gardai attended the scene, but said that no official complaints were made.