Protesters insist Tanaiste was 'not wanted' at ceremony before controversial demonstration
WATER charge protesters have claimed Tánaiste Joan Burton was told she was not wanted at the adult education graduation ceremony she attended before the controversial demonstration which saw her trapped in her car for two hours.
Protesters, who believe they are facing criminal charges, said some of the graduates refused to shake the Tánaiste’s hand on the day of the ceremony and also took part in the protest.
A group of protesters joined Socialist TD Paul Murphy at a press conference in Brookfield Community Centre in Josbtown, Tallaght – not far from where the protest took place.
Carole Purcell, who was arrested earlier this year, said the protest started when Ms Burton decided to walk through the crowd after the graduation ceremony.
“None of the graduates wanted her at the ceremony. They said weeks before they didn’t want her at the ceremony but they weren’t listened to. In fact, they refused to shake her hand and refused to take certificates from her,” Ms Purcell said.
Ms Purcell’s husband Ken, who was also arrested for his role in the protest, lost his mother last week and his wife said they found out they were going to be arrested on the day of her funeral through the media.
“We should have been warned. This has been a very tough week for us,” she said.
Protesters Frank Donaghy, Paul Kiernan and Keith Preston also spoke at the press conference.
Mr Kieran said he believed he did nothing different from what former Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte and other student protesters did in previous years.
“I don’t see myself as taking part in violence but we will have to see what happens when the court date arrives,” he said.
Mr Kiernan said the Government should a expect protests that are a “hell of a lot worse” than Ms Burton’s ordeal due to the measures they are introducing.
“You can bend people for so long but they will break and they will snap,” he said
The protesters sought to distance themselves from Mr Murphy’s claim that people in Jobstown “hated” Ms Burton.
Mr Preston said he did not “personally hate Ms Burton, and Ms Purcell said she did not “hate anybody” but said she was opposed to the austerity cuts that impacted on her community.
“We don’t like her policies, we don’t hate anybody,” Ms Purcell said.
The protesters called on Gardai to contact their solicitor Cahir O’Higgins with details of their charges.
Mr Murphy later sought to clarify his comments and insisted he did not have a "personal hatred" of the Tánaiste.
"I don’t know the woman. Nobody here knows the woman. But it’s a hatred of what she represents politically which is a complete sell-out of people and then really laying the boot into working class communities,” he said.
The group said they voted for Labour in previous elections but will not be supporting them again.