Chaos outside Dail as protester blocks minister
A PROTESTER who blocked a minister's Mercedes entering Government Buildings yesterday was manhandled to the ground before being bundled into the back of a squad car.
The man, believed to be in his 40s, stood directly in front of Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin's government car as she attempted to pass through the gates of the Dail for the high-level meeting on the four-year plan to reduce the country's deficit.
The unnamed man was shouting slogans and demanding that a date for the outstanding by-elections be set, one witness said.
When gardai asked him to move, the man began shouting "stop harassing me".
More uniformed gardai arrived and the man was moved from the entrance. A struggle ensued and he was bundled to the ground shortly after 3pm before being placed in the back of an official marked car.
It lasted a matter of minutes before he was whisked away and cabinet members continued to pass through the gates to take their seats at the meeting table.
The man was arrested under the Public Order Act. He was being questioned at Harcourt Terrace garda station last night.
More ardent protesters confronting ministers in recent weeks have led Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to insist security for ministers, which includes ministerial cars and garda drivers, should not be changed.
Senior gardai also said they were not in favour of withdrawing the ministerial drivers.
This follows eggs and cheese being thrown at a car carrying Health Minister Mary Harney as she arrived at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.
It also follows Louise Minihan, a Dublin city councillor with left-wing republican protest group Eirigi, throwing red paint over Ms Harney at an event in Ballyfermot.
Violent scenes were also seen between some protesters and gardai during the largely peaceful protest against potential changes to student funding in Dublin earlier this month.