TD Paul Murphy 'outraged' over claims he backs verbal abuse of President
Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and former minister Pat Rabitte were engaged in a war of words over last week's protest against President Higgins.
Mr Murphy said he was "outraged" over claims that he supported the language used as the President he left a school in Finglas.
"I clearly defended protesters’ right to protest but criticised the personal abuse."
Speaking on Newstalk earlier, Mr Murphy said: "I strongly condemn the personal abuse aimed at the President". He asked for those responsible to apologise as "such behaviour was not helpful to the anti-water charges movement".
Separately, today the anti-water charges protester Derek Byrne who called President Michael D Higgins a "midget parasite" apologised for the insult, saying that he "shouldn’t have called him a midget".
Derek Byrne, from ‘Dublin says no’ and ‘Ireland says no to water charges’, said that he was sorry for the use of the term "midget" but stood by calling Higgins a "parasite".
Labour's Pat Rabbite told Newstalk he had never seen the President targeted "with such unimaginable abuse in over 30 plus years in politics".
He said the protests had become "increasingly more personal" due to the actions of people like Mr Murphy, who he said was involved in "stoking" people's anger.
He accused the Dublin South–West TD of hiding behind a "parliamentary chair" while he sent in "shock troops" to harass and stir up anger at politicians, warning Mr Murphy that those who voted for him were waking up to his agenda.
"The only people waking up are those who listen to Labour's broken promises on water charges," retorted Mr Murphy.
"The anger out there is real but it is not coming from me or anyone else in the opposition. It is the result of what the Government has done."
Commenting on Mr Rabbite's claims that the office of President was "above politics", the AAA TD said that "the Presidential election had been clearly a political election" and that people had illusions he would not sign into law the water charges, or would delay them by calling a Council of State.
Meanwhile, in a statement this afternoon, Mr Murphy said: “I fully defend the right of people to protest against any political figure they want, including the President. I criticised any abuse of a personal nature against the president. Abuse of this nature is not helpful to the anti-water charges movement.
“However, the position of the president is a political position. The Presidential election is clearly a political election. People had illusions in the president that he would not sign into law the water charges, or would delay them by calling a Council of State."
"This belief was fed by political statements which the president often makes which are critical of austerity measures and in defence of human rights and because of the mass movement of people who had clearly rejected the water charges.