Lunching Rabbitte gets an ear-bashing for dessert
MINISTER Pat Rabbitte was on the receiving end of verbal abuse while having lunch in Buswells Hotel in Dublin on Friday afternoon, which led to a man being arrested by gardai.
The Communications Minister was enjoying a business lunch with another suited gentleman in the hotel opposite Leinster House when he was castigated by a member of the public.
The man in his 50s had been protesting earlier that day outside Savills auctioneers on Molesworth Street over the sale of a Kildare stud farmer's land because he could not repay an Anglo Irish Bank loan.
Following the demonstration organised by People for Economic Justice, the protesters moved to Buswells Hotel for refreshments and encountered the minister and another businessman in the hotel's bar.
Video footage of the incident shows a man in his 50s verbally berating the minister for issues ranging from the sale of gas and oil to mercury levels in water.
The enraged protester continually asks Mr Rabbitte, who remains calm and aloof throughout the barrage of abuse, if he thinks he is "following in the footsteps James Connolly".
He then shouts: "Four suicides a week in this county by people who have been robbed and pillaged by the banks", to which he receives a rapturous applause.
Mr Rabbitte's friend tries to reason with the man, only to have his English accent mimicked by the demonstrator.
A hotel staff member then tells the protester she would call the gardai if he did not leave the premises and he does so while still shouting abuse at the minister.
The demonstrators continue to question Mr Rabbitte over whether his lunch was going to be put on expenses and ask if he would intervene on various eviction cases. Tensions had reportedly eased by the time gardai arrived and the man who had been berating the minister had long since gone.
However, John Rogers, another protester who had also spoken with the minister but had not abused him, was asked to leave the bar by gardai.
Mr Rogers, who was previously arrested while taking part in the Occupy Dame Street protest, would not leave the bar and demanded to know why he was being singled out. Eventually, gardai led him from the building while he shouted: "Read me the legislation", and "Abuse".
The crowd then turned their attentions to Mr Rabbitte, who was sitting a couple of feet from the incident, and shouted: "Why didn't you intervene, Pat?" and "You sat idly by, Pat."
The businessman who was dining with Mr Rabbitte told protesters that Mr Rogers had asked the minister a question but had "spoke politely".
He was then asked if he would appear as a witness for Mr Rogers if it went to trial, to which he said: "Yes, I'd say that he didn't harass him in any way."
Mr Rogers was bought to Pearse Street Garda Station, where he was charged under the public order act and is due to appear in court next month.