An anti-austerity protest in Dublin was brutally cleared by Gardai on Wednesday to allow disgraced former Minister Alan Shatter drive through protestors into the Leinster House parliament.
Many demonstrators were pushed to the ground, punched or clubbed. One elderly protestor collapsed while another was hurled against the side of a bus by Gardai. A policewoman was also injured in the melee.
Alan Shatter, a former Minister for Justice who resigned following a corruption scandal, expressed angered that his car had been blocked in as he tried to get into the Dail via his preferred route.
“To allow this sort of conduct and to regard it as acceptable is a step on the road to fascism,” he declared.
Councillor Michael O’Brien, a member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and elected representative for the Beaumont/Donaghmede ward of Dublin City Council, said Gardai had provocatively drawn their batons at protesters who had been peacefully demonstrating against water charges and the situation in Greece.
“We started at six o’clock and we had speeches on a platform outside Buswells, a bit away from the Dail gates that continued up until eight o’clock,” Mr O’Brien said.
“And then proceedings were interrupted when the guards, in a very forceful manner, and some 50 guards, tried to drive a path through a crowd that was just assembled outside the gates of the Dail. It was a very provocative action. I could see it was a forceful push,” he added.
‘GRUBBY’ AMENDMENTS MOVE
More than 400 water charge protesters took part in the protest at the Dail as new water charges legislation was being “rammed” through the parliament this week.
The new measures will force the payment of unpaid water charges through a lien on property or by attaching the debt to social welfare payments and salaries.
The law will also oblige local authorities to force their tenants to pay the water charges and require landlords to give details about their tenants to Irish Water. The government’s latest dodge involved rushing through no fewer than 22 Irish Water amendments, buried in the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
It all recalled the events of last December, when the main provisions for setting up Irish Water were rushed through parliament without debate.
Sinn Fein TD for Dublin North West Dessie Ellis described the amendments as a “grubby and underhanded attempt to beat the anti-water charge movement”.
Speaking in the Dail, he said the government were engaging in bullying tactic because they had failed to scare people into paying the water charges so far.
“With this Bill, the government have admitted defeat on a number of fronts. Most starkly, they have utterly failed to bully and scare the people into paying the water charges, but they have also failed to dampen down the massive opposition to this government which has flowed from the water charges protests into a wider anti-austerity sentiment.
“In a deeply shameful week for this government, this is just another step into the mire.”
A Republican Sinn Fein spokesperson called on the Irish people to “speak up” to prevent “our most precious resource falling into private hands.”
Republican Network for Unity also urged support for the mass non-payment of water charges. It accused the coalition government of using “scare tactics”.
“The 26 county administration have demonstrated that they will go to any lengths to have this double taxation imposed on our communities despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of us have come out publicly against it.”