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Donegal group defends protest despite 'egging' of Taoiseach's car

The Taoiseach’s car was ‘egged’ while arriving to Loreto Community School in Milford yesterday.

Kenny in Milford yesterday
Kenny in Milford yesterday
Image: YouTube Screengrab via 2bcut

THE DONEGAL ‘CAN’T Pay, Won’t Pay’ campaign has defended its protest at a school in Milford yesterday despite an incident which saw the Taoiseach’s car pelted with eggs.

Spokesperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig also rejected criticism from students attending Loreto Community College who felt the protest “hijacked” their day with the head of government.

The Taoiseach was in Milford to celebrate the school’s win in the Intel SmartClass competition. An email sent to the Donegal Democrat outlines one student’s “disgust” at the behaviour of the protesters during a “proud moment” for the school.

However, Mac Giolla Easbuig said that a number of students had told him that they felt Enda Kenny’s presence was unnecessary at the celebrations “given the future that lies in front of them because of austerity and cutbacks”.

The group’s leader said it was “ironic the Taoiseach would come to a school in Donegal given the number of teachers lost recently” in rural areas.

He was not here to look after the young people. He was here trying to persuade people to vote Yes to a referendum despite the fact that these teenagers will graduate from school and will have to emigrate. They will be straight on the plane to Canada and Australia.

He added that members of the Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay group were asked to come to the school to express their anger and to send a clear message to Government that Donegal people were not happy.

He described the county as one that has always been plagued by massive emigration and unemployment, while seeing little investment or attention from Dublin.

Protest group Donegal Action Against Austerity has been clear that it was not involved in yesterday’s protests. A spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that despite reports to the contrary, its members had made a conscious decision to stay away from the demonstration because it was being held during a celebration of a success of a local school.

In a statement, the group said it was “shocked and appalled”  to hear about the egging incident.

Our group has incorrectly been blamed for this incident. We were also shocked and appalled when our name was dragged into the affair.

The action group said such protests are inappropriate and that students and school staff are “quite right” to be annoyed with the events. It was not the time nor place for a demonstration, they said.

However, Donegal Action Against Austerity said it was disappointed that Kenny would not meet with them while visiting the county. Earlier, Kenny told reporters that his decision was “simply a matter of scheduling” and he remained open to a meeting in the future.

“I understand the groups involved already met two ministers face-to-face to give them their concerns and their anxieties,” he said. “It is important that every group has the opportunity to express their views and concerns to Government. But if they have already met two Government Minsters who talk to me at the Cabinet table. We’re on a very tight schedule and I’m sorry I can’t meet them today. That opportunity is always open again.”

Column: Who are the winners and losers in the referendum campaign right now?>

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