ANGRY household charge protesters confronted Environment Minister Phil Hogan as he drove away from an official engagement in his own constituency yesterday.
Demonstrators banged on Mr Hogan's car and attempted to surround the vehicle as tension boiled over outside Carlow Cathedral.
After the minister had attended the opening of a museum, gardai had to hold back between 100 and 150 demonstrators who attempted to attack his vehicle with anti-household charge placards.
Mr Hogan did not appear to be in any danger but the scenes further underscored the intense public opposition to his controversial tax. The minister was opening the Carlow County Museum at about 5pm.
Initial plans for an outdoor speech were jettisoned in favour of the nearby cathedral as protesters surrounded the location before being cordoned off by up to 20 gardai.
With a nod to the security presence, the minister said during his speech: "I didn't think I'd ever have that many people looking after me. It's great to see so many people can't get in."
However, tensions came to a head when he re-emerged from the cathedral and protesters surrounded his silver Audi.
A number of them tried to hit the car with placards.
Demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as 'Don't Register, Don't Pay' and some of the protesters appeared to have travelled from other counties.
One said after the incident: "We came up here from Wexford. We will go anywhere. I'm not paying (the charge). I will go to jail for this."
Last night, one protester denied there was any contact with the car or that things had gotten out of hand.
Michael O'Brien, who had travelled from Wicklow, said: "We had a fairly noisy protest (but) I was in the frontline and there was nothing hot and heavy."