Residents terrified by Youth Defence protest

NEIGHBOURS of Dublin Labour TD Roisin Shortall yesterday described a Youth Defence protest outside her house as ``absolutely terrifying''.One woman neighbour of the northside deputy said residents had effectively been held hostage by a crowd of about 50 people for over an hour on Wednesday night.

``A crowd of young men and women of mixed ages chanted `murderer' outside Ms Shortall's home with her three children inside.

``Graphic placards of aborted foetuses, several feet high, were touted by them. They were like thugs,'' said the woman who was ``too afraid'' to be named.

She claimed that megaphones were also used to call the TD a murderer and verbal intimidation was directed at neighbours as they made their way in and out their homes on Iveagh Road in Whitehall.

Elderly people were described as being afraid to leave their homes while the protest was under way. There was a garda presence outside Ms Shortall's house throughout the incident.

The TD is chairperson of the Eastern Health Board and neighbours believe this is why she was targetted.

``There was nothing Christian about this protest. Everyone can make a protest but not in a violent or threatening way,'' said the woman neighbour.

``The pictures looked obscene to say the least and I felt very sorry for Roisin's young children, hearing people shout names about her.

``None of them could leave the house during the incident and I for one am afraid that they could be back,'' she said.

Ms Shortall said she was not at home at the time of the protest due to Dail commitments.

``Everyone has the right to protest but I don't believe that it should be done outside private homes. Protests should be held outside public places such as government offices or the Dail itself,'' she said.

``It is totally unfair to target people's home and frighten their neighbours, some of whom are elderly. I had a number of calls from neighbours today,'' said the TD.

She added that Youth Defence were being ``counterproductive'' by indulging in such protests. ``They are simply alienating people, some of whom might otherwise be quite sympathetic towards their cause.''