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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Watch: Vehicle hits pedestrian during demonstration against Irish Water

Watch clashes between gardai on O'Connell Bridge and Irish Water protesters

Independent.ie Newsdesk and Agencies

Footage has emerged of a person being hit by a vehicle near Liberty Hall yesterday during a sit-in against Irish Water.

The 15-second clip, which was sent to FM104's Phoneshow, shows the SUV hit someone before driving off while a number of people chase the car down the quays. One person was taken to hospital.

There were four arrests on O'Connell Bridge following the mass demonstration against the charges.

Whilst the majority of protesters were situated outside Government buildings, a number went to O'Connell Bridge to stage a sit-in protest that lasted several hours.

Traffic in the city centre came to a standstill for several hours yesterday evening.

Gardai moved in at approximately 8.30pm to move the protesters.

Video recorded at the scene shows dozens of gardai moving onto the bridge - with some minor clashes recorded.

One protester can be heard shouting to gardai 'Who's side are you on?'

The video also shows both Gardaí and demonstrators knocked to the ground.

Evan McCaffrey, freelance journalist at the scene and who is not a member of any protest groups, took the footage.

"It was around 7pm," he told Independent.ie

"There were a few protesters on O’Connell Bridge, maybe 100. The guards arrived with a 3 to 1 ratio.

"There was no confrontation until about four hours, when the guards began a steady walk into the crowd to drive people back.

"If you wouldn’t move, they were grabbing people under the neck to push them back.

"There was a few people swinging back.

"The riot police came from one side and the guards with the dogs from the other, but it was the normal guards that were pushing.

"I wasn’t paying attention because I was taking that video and I was forcibly removed.

"At the beginning of the video, (where the camera drops) people were falling on me. Guards were falling over too.

"The protesters stayed on the sidewalks after that in a standoff and then it just dissipated.

"(Blocking the traffic) achieved attention, that’s about it.”

Gardai had the junction cleared and re-opened to traffic within a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, a woman named only as "Dawn" told the FM104 Phoneshow with Chris Barry that she and her boyfriend were "shoved" by gardai outside Lafayette Bar on D'Olier Street when they were trying to cross the road to get their bus.

“As we were walking across the raod, the guards started shoving my boyfriend telling him he can’t get across the road.”

“My boyfriend said to him, but we live on the northside. We have to get over to to that side of the road.”

“He shoved him. He stumbled backwards and I started shouting. I’m shouting at the guards, I’m trying to aggravate them. But I’m telling them to keep their hands off people.”

“I am a bit shaken by it still.”

“I said to them get your hands off my boyfriend. A guard came over picked me by my cardigan and shoved me.”

Dawn said she could have been injured in the incident.

“He pushed me about ten feet, I missed the lamppost by about five centimetres. My glasses would have smashed into my face.”

“I was not looking for trouble, not even one bit.”

The tense scenes came after a prolonged sit-in on the bridge following the Irish Water protest which attracted a crowd of more than 30,000 people. Organisers say the true turnout is closer to 100,000.

Following the official demonstration, a large number of campaigners took to one of Dublin's busiest throughfare's to continue their protest.

Buses were abandoned amid rush hour traffic as the capital came to a standstill when breakaway water charge protesters blocked the

In the video, one protester is heard telling a Garda that they were there to serve and protect the people.

Before the violent scenes, one protester said he was there to fight against "unjust" Irish Water.

"I'm 70 years of age and in my 70 years, I have never seen many people out against these unjust taxes in my life," he said.

"I'm so proud to be Irish. Really and truly."

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