ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan's car windscreen was smashed during a visit to Athlone.
The incident happened as the Minister's car was leaving a function in Athlone Library at around 3pm yesterday.
Gardai arrested a 23-year-old local man and held him for questioning.
There were conflicting accounts of the incident, with protesters claiming the windscreen was damaged after one man was injured.
According to a spokesman for Mr Hogan (inset): "The Minister's car was leaving the car park when a gang of protesters ran at the car, surrounded it, banged on it, and one individual smashed the windscreen. The gardai made one arrest."
The Minister's car was stationary at the time, he said.
"The Minister acknowledges the right to peaceful protest and we've had protests with placards which were harmless and innocuous enough, but this went way beyond that."
Mr Hogan had spoken at the function at the official launch of the Midlands PAL (Pathway to Learning) initiative in Athlone Civic Centre.
John McNamara of the People's Voice group said about 24 people, many of them retired, had mounted an anti-austerity protest at Mr Hogan's visit to Athlone.