A CORK CITY council meeting was disrupted last night by a group of protesters wielding signs and whistles.
Laura McGonigle, a Fine Gael city councillor, told TheJournal.ie that it was a public meeting, but that at around 7pm last night the room was “swarmed with people” in the gallery, with one woman displaying a sign.
She said that when the Lord Mayor asked the woman to take down the sign, about “100 people stood up and every single one unfurled banners and stamped feet” and blew whistles.
The meeting continued for another 10 minutes before being called off. Cllr McGonigle said that as the Lord Mayor walked out, the protesters were “jeering and booing”. Some of the councillors stayed in the room and the porters tried to move the protestors, but “a number of protesters forced their way” into the chamber, including the Lord Mayor’s seat.
“I must say it was one of the most intimidating things,” said Cllr McGonigle.
Everyone has the right to protest but when you prevent the public meeting going ahead, it amounts to fascism. They weren’t genuine protesters.
She said that in her opinion, the protest was “obviously politically motivated” and was for publicity.
It’s tantamount to fascism from what I can see. It is horrendous – we are a democratically elected forum and we are elected to do the business of the city.
She said that the protesters were raising items over which the city council has no jurisdiction, such as bailing out the bond holders.
She said the protesters were “shouting abuse” and that council colleagues of hers were shaking hands with some of them. Police were called and stayed to the end of the meeting but there were no arrests.
Journalist Peter Horgan tweeted a video from the protest, which shows protesters standing in the area where the Lord Mayor’s seat is.
Cllr Ted Tynan, of the Workers’ Party, said that it was a “peaceful protest” but a “noisy” one. “There were insults , political comments,” he said. “I addressed the people inside.”
Cllr Tynan also addressed the protesters outside the City Hall after the disruption.
I spoke to the people in the audience, I complimented them on their protest. We need to highlight the injustice that is happening in the country.
He added that the group were mainly opposed to household charges and also home help cuts. He said that he felt the protest “was quite appropriate” as the council meeting “is a political forum” and that people felt so angry they wanted to get their point across.
What happened last night [was] peaceful. There was nobody pushed around. Obviously with a crowd of 150, there may have been one or two derogatory remarks passed. It was nothing to do with the real issue.
Cllr Tynan said he was confronted by a number of fellow councillors who thought his behaviour was disgraceful, but said he is a democrat who feels people need to get out into the street and protest about cutbacks.