Burton changes venue for private meeting over water protester fears
TANAISTE Joan Burton was forced to change the location of a private meeting with a youth group after water meter protesters planned to target the event.
Ms Burton was expected to meet with youths from the Ballymun Regional Youth Resource Group at the local Reco centre last Friday, but was forced to change the venue the evening before after the event's details were posted on the Facebook page of protest group Dublin Says No.
A spokesperson for Ms Burton confirmed the change of plan, saying the location was revised at the last minute to "avoid another circus".
"Ms Burton was scheduled to meet with members of a local youth group in what was meant to be a private, non-publicity event," the spokesperson said.
"It involved about four or five young people from a pilot youth scheme, and the Tanaiste was to meet them to see how they were getting on."
Rather than cancel the event, its time and place were changed to a location "not far from" the original venue.
The spokesperson also confirmed that the changes weremade as a precaution to avoid any trouble following unrest at an event Ms Burton attended last year in west Dublin.
The Tanaiste was the target of an unruly mob last November while she attended a graduation ceremony in Jobstown, Tallaght.
Ms Burton was spat at and had a water balloon thrown at her head, while missiles were thrown at gardai.
Liz Waters, the CEO of An Cosan School, where the event was taking place, was also spat at and had her necklace ripped off her.
While a protest against Ms Burton was expected at the original venue of last week's event, it would not have been "on the same scale" as the Jobs-town protest, according to a spokesperson.
The planned picketing of Ms Burton came on the same day as President Michael D Higgins was ambushed by water meter protesters.
In a video put online, Mr Higgins was labelled a "midget parasite" as he attended a ceremony at a secondary school in north Dublin.
The man responsible for the comment - anti-water meter campaigner Derek Byrne (inset) - has since apologised for the "midget" reference but is continuing to refer to Mr Higgins as a "parasite".
Mr Byrne is a member of the Dublin Says No group as well as Ireland Says No.
A large water charges protest has been planned for tomorrow in Dublin city centre.
Several feeder marches are expected to begin at 1.30pm in places including St James's Hospital, Heuston Station and Connolly Station.
Protesters are expected to travel to the capital from around the country and descend on O'Connell Street in a bid to "shut down the city", according to the event's social media page.
No stage will be set up and no speeches are expected either.