Updated at 12.13pm
TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has said the protest group that trapped her in her car for hours in Jobstown yesterday was infiltrated by a people from “outside the community”. She also rejected claims from organisers that the action was a peaceful one.
The Labour leader was stuck inside her car for almost three hours yesterday afternoon as angry protesters banged on her vehicle’s roof.
Burton and other senior Government figures have condemned the action as undemocratic.
While Paul Murphy, the newly-elected Anti Austerity Alliance TD, has also come in for criticism from the Tánaiste for his part in the protest.
The former MEP was one of the organisers of the action, and insisted afterwards that it had been peaceful.
However, gardaí confirmed there had been two arrests — one for a public order offence and another for damage to a patrol car.
“They were rocking the car, banging on the windows on the doors and the roof,” Burton told RTÉ’s Marian Finucane this morning.
“And, you know — Paul Murphy is a TD. He was standing at the back with a loudhailer leading the chanting.
But I can say — if that’s his idea of a peaceful protest I would not like to see that norm being set for Ireland by him as the way people in Ireland protest.
The Labour leader’s car was surrounded by demonstrators in the Dublin suburb at around 1pm yesterday, as she attempted to leave a graduation ceremony at An Cosán — a higher education college.
Dozens of gardaí attended the scene, as did the Public Order Unit.
Burton was eventually escorted to safety after protesters allowed her to leave — and she was transported to a waiting garda car, which sped from the scene, shortly before 4pm.Source: Fight TheWaterTax/YouTube
Speaking to RTÉ News last night, Communications Minister Alex White also condemned the protesters’ actions.
While Independent Senator Katherine Zappone, who is a founder of the Cósan centre and was at the scene yesterday, said the ‘menacing’ nature of the demonstrations was unacceptable.
“The actions of some of the protestors generated an air of intimidation and menace which turned what should have been a local community celebration into a major security operation, with the Garda Public Order Unit on the ground and a helicopter overhead,” Zappone said in a statement.
“The blockading and banging of posters on the Tánaiste’s car, the jostling and spitting at those involved in the event goes beyond any legitimate form of protest.
“Those behind such actions do not represent the thousands of us who took to the streets of Tallaght just two weeks ago to air our legitimate grievances over Irish Water.
“As someone who witnessed much of what unfolded [...] I have no hesitation in saying that what occurred went beyond legitimate peaceful protest.”
Burton also said the protest took away from students’ experience.
“They were entitled to celebrate their achievement, their community’s achievement,” the Tánaiste said.
Regarding those who took part in the action she said “I think there were a lot of people from outside the community there”.
Labour and Fine Gael figures have also been weighing in with their criticism of what happened, on Twitter.