JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has described the behaviour of some members of Éirígí and the People Before Profit Alliance at a protest in Dublin his morning as “disgraceful”.
A car carrying Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald outside The Base youth club on Blackditch Road in Ballyfermot was forced to turn back this morning as a result of the heated demonstration.
Both Cabinet members had been invited to join about 80 children at an event organised by UNICEF at the centre.
“Despite the fact that this was an event organised for children, Éirígí and the People Before Profit Alliance protesters engaged in violence, thuggery and shouted expletives,” said Shatter.
The vehicle was surrounded by people and pelted with eggs as it tried to enter the car park. The Minister said there were also people “beating the roof and side of the car”, as well as “hitting the windscreen…posing a serious risk that they would break the glass.”
“It was fortunate that it was the Tánaiste’s garda driver who drove the Ministers to this event and was in a position to ensure their safety,” added Shatter.
We all recognise the right to peaceful protest. But it must represent a new low, even for the protesters involved, that they would engage in such disgraceful behaviour designed to disrupt an event organised for children and to do so with complete disregard for the affect of their actions on the children.
“These individuals clearly have no respect for democratic values, for individual rights of freedom of expression and are clearly incapable of recognising the importance of the Children’s Rights Referendum and of ensuring that both adults and children have available to them the fullest information relating to it.
Their attempt to justify their conduct as representing any real concern about the issue of child benefit is rank hypocrisy.
One man, aged 28, was arrested at the scene and was charged in court this afternoon. Shatter said the Gardaí have assured him that they will fully pursue any illegal behaviour that occurred this morning.
The Minister also called on TD Richard Boyd Barrett to condemn the actions of protesters and to give assurances that his movement will not engage in similar conduct in the coming days or weeks at events relating to the Children’s Referendum.
Boyd Barrett was not available for comment but TD Joan Collins said she would question whether there was any People Before Profit members involved in throwing eggs or other violent behaviour.
“We’ll have to check out who of our group was involved but we would never encourage people to take those actions,” she told TheJournal.ie. “As far as we were concerned, people linked with People Before Profit were engaged in a peaceful protest.”