Thursday 21 November 2019

Scuffles break out in 'jail the bankers' march outside Dail

Jail the bankers protest at the Dail, Kildare street, Dublin
Jail the bankers protest at the Dail, Kildare street, Dublin

Allison Bray

SCUFFLES broke out between gardai and a small number of dissident protesters who were among several thousand people who demonstrated outside the Dail demanding criminal sanctions for former Anglo Irish bankers.

Gardai were quick to respond when a handful of demonstrators, believed to be members of the Republican dissident group the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, tried to scale the gates of the Leinster House last night.

But organisers of the ‘Jail the Bankers’ protest - including members of the People Before Profit Alliance and the SIPTU Grassroots Organisation - appealed for peace.

“This isn’t about a couple of people trying to play hard men for the cameras,” said SIPTU shop steward Alan Laws of the SIPTU Grassroots Organisation.

About two thousand protesters, including trade unionists, members of the Socialist Workers Party and People Before Profit Alliance as well as ordinary citizens rallied outside the Dail on Kildare Street before marching past the Central Bank to the Pearse Street garda station.

There they dropped off signed formal complaint letters addressed to the station superintendent demanding that former Anglo Irish bankers David Drumm, John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald be investigated over the collapse of the bank and the subsequent State bank guarantee.

Citing the Irish Independent’s publication of taped conversations between the former Anglo Irish executives, the letters request gardai to confirm an investigation has been launched into the matter and if not so, “please furnish details as to why.”

The letter campaign is just the first salvo in what organisers hope will be a massive public rally to be held in the capital on September 18 demanding a criminal inquiry into the banking scandal.

Among the speakers was Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who said: “Don’t wait for the people inside to solve your problems,” in reference to his colleagues in the Dail.

“It’s time to rise up and come here on September 18 and terrify the sh**e ouf of them,” he urged.

Among the demonstrators was retired Aer Lingus pilot Mike Mahon (68), from Templeogue, south Dublin, who will be appearing in court later this month charged with criminal damage after he disabled more than a dozen ATM machines in south Dublin suburbs last autumn with glue and spray paint to protest against one of the main bank’s alleged treatment of him.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Mahon said he is considering doing jail time instead of agreeing to pay the bank a fine of €12,770.

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