Saturday 7 December 2019

Tense scenes as protesters against water charges congregate outside Dublin garda Station

The scene at Coolock where people held a protest in connection with Irish Water; there have been claims the protest was hijacked by violent dissidents. Pic: Collins Photos
The scene at Coolock where people held a protest in connection with Irish Water; there have been claims the protest was hijacked by violent dissidents. Pic: Collins Photos

Mark O'Regan and Geraldine Gittens

Tense scenes erupted outside a north Dublin garda station tonight as a group of more than 100 protesters against water charges congregated there in a stand-off.

The protesters blocked Malahide Road outside Coolock garda station, and gardai were forced to divert traffic.

It was also alleged that some gardai used pepper spray as the protest continued.

The protesters gathered outside the station following the arrests of three anti-water charge protesters earlier today.

Earlier demonstrators heckled Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he visited a sports complex in Santry - and continued to shout slogans and heckle him as he departed.

The three people arrested were subsequently released.

"The guards were telling us to move back, and a couple of words were thrown back and forth," said Wayne Osbourne from Kilmore West in Coolock.

"Then one of the guards started spraying people in the face. It hit one woman and it went directly into her eyes and mouth. She was coughing and gasping for air.

"There are armed guards here which is completely unnecessary."

A garda spokesperson told independent.ie: “There are a number of people protesting outside the station”

“A section of road has been shut outside the station. Diversions are in place.”

It is understood the crowd was later dispersed.

Earlier today, a Fine Gael TD said he was “very close” to resigning from the party over the water charges debacle.

Party backbencher Brendan Griffin said he had to consider “where is the red line” which would push him over the edge and leave the Government.

And Labour Senators broke ranks with government colleagues to back the principle of a referendum - despite their own party's Envrionment Alan Kelly signalling protection against privatisation was better done by legislation.

The Labour Senators' move defies an announcement by Taoiseach Enda Kenny who yesterday told Independent.ie there would be no referendum.

Yesterday Tanaiste Joan Burton said the Coalition is considering the introduction of a fixed flat rate for at least two years. She said that this period is necessary to allow for the full roll-out of meters and that it may extend to 2018.

She told reporters that the €200 bill for a family of four adults takes into account the water support measures that will apply.

And she said she “does not believe” that Irish Water is now threatening the stability of the Coalition.

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