Leo Varadkar slams 'sinister fringe' to water protests

Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Independent Newsdesk

Minster for Health Leo Varadkar has criticised a "sinister fringe" to the water charge protests and has called on Sinn Fein and the Austerity Alliance to condemn the ugly scenes which marred protests yesterday.

Gardia were forced to restrain protesters yesterday after they attempted to confront Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the ongoing public outcry over water charges.

Protesters created a blockade by sitting down in a line across a street in Dublin in an attempt to block Mr Kenny from leaving an event.

The crowd of up to 50 people gathered at the Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation in Santry at around 3pm, where Mr Kenny was marking its official launch.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Varadkar said he feared a repeat of the scenes at Coolock Garda Station yesterday where some 200 protesters gathered.

A garda spokesman said last night that two males and a female had been arrested for obstruction following the earlier incident and brought to Coolock station, adding that they were later released.

"What strikes me is that there is a very sinister fringe to some of the water protests," he said.

"They abuse the gardai, they break the law, they engage in violence, they spread all sorts of misinformation and what I'm worried about is that it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

"While there are a lot of people protesting legitimately and reasonably, this fringe element is very sinister.

"It is a very nasty fringe to these water protests.

"There are a lot of people who attended those protests who accept the context of paying for water.

"I think it is really important that Sinn Fein, the Austerity Alliance and Independents all condemn the violence and the abuse of gardai that occurred yesterday."