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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 30 May, 2016

Watch: Joan Burton wants to know why water protesters have expensive phones and cameras

Her comments follow scuffles between protesters and gardaí in Clare Hall earlier this week.

Updated at 2.10pm

Source: Joan Collins/YouTube

[Tánaiste's comments on recordings at 8 min mark]

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has questioned why demonstrators protesting the installation of water meters in parts of Dublin are using phones, cameras and other devices to record their interactions with gardaí and Irish Water contractors.

Responding to a question from United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins in the Dáil this afternoon, the Social Protection Minister observed that “all of the protesters I’ve seen seem to have extremely expensive phones, tablets [and] video cameras”.

She was interrupted several times from across the aisle as she made the comments, but continued on to say that a “core part” of the ongoing campaign of protest in the northside was to “video every single second”.

There has been the most extensive filming in relation to any of these actions that I have ever seen anywhere.

“Hollywood would be in the ha’penny place compared to what’s done here, right?”

Her comments follow scuffles between protesters and gardaí in the Clare Hall estate, off the Malahide Road, yesterday.

More than 20 gardaí responded to the scene, and demonstrators taking part later complained of heavy-handed tactics.

A screengrab of footage captured in Clare Hall this week.

Collins complained to the Minister that “peaceful protests” on the issue were being broken up by gardaí

She said people were being “pushed, pulled and shoved” by officers “in some cases in a very aggressive manner”.

Collins insisted the demonstrations were not being organised by “outsiders”.

She said they were being staged spontaneously by local residents “with children, demonstrating their opposition to the water charges”.

Responding, Burton said it was clear that all of the material gathered by protesters “particularly anything which looks controversial, is immediately posted up on Facebook, Youtube and everything else”. 

If you can show — with all of the filming that’s going on — if you can actually say as you’re suggesting here that the gardaí are behaving improperly, I don’t think the extensive filming that has been going on reflects that.

Ongoing protests

Demonstrations — by members of protest group ‘Dublin Says No’, People Before Profit, Sinn Féin, Éirigí and other groups — have been taking place in various estates across the wider Dublin 5 area since April of this year.

One of the organisers of the protests told TheJournal.ie back in June that a small number of activists took responsibility for organising the demonstrations.

In general, what happens is that the activists keep an eye on locations where they know contractors are active, ‘Dublin Says No’ organiser Derek Byrne, from Donaghmede, said

When the contractors begin work, reinforcements are called in, with word spread on social media by DSN, and People Before Profit councillors, amongst others.

Regarding this week’s protest in Clare Hall, gardaí said in a statement that the force had a role in “ensuring peaceful protest can take place, and also in preventing injury and protecting life”.

“Our objective with any such operation is to ensure the safety of the public.”

First posted at 1.40pm.

Read: From a trickle… Water protests now springing up all over Dublin 5 

Read: Gardaí called in to support Irish Water contractors at Raheny protest

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