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'I was concerned if the car doors opened what would happen next' - Joan Burton

The Tánaiste and Mary Lou McDonald had another argument today, but this one didn’t lead to a four-hour sit-in.

Updated: 12.55pm

THE TÁNAISTE HAS spoken out about the protest that saw her trapped in her car for almost three hours last Saturday.

Joan Burton told Newstalk that language “heavily-loaded with sexual imagery against women” was shouted at her and her personal advisory assistant while protesters banged on her car.

“I was concerned if the [car] doors were opened what would happen next,” she said.

Burton said it was a mistake that organisers of the event allowed children to attend and witness what happened.

She said that many of the people present were “experienced at protesting” and not from Tallaght, where the incident took place.

“The local people that I could see were standing back on the grass verges,” she noted.

The issue also came up during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today.

Both Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald condemned what happened to Burton on Saturday. However, they also criticised the Government’s revised water charges package,

joan burton 20 nov 14 Joan Burton Source: Oireachtas TV

When Cowen said that the Labour party had taken control of Fine Gael’s “love child” Irish Water, Burton replied that Fianna Fáil “had a hand in its conception”.

Cowen also questioned whether or not the revised measures would affect Ireland’s chance of passing its Market Corporation Test. Burton said she didn’t believe this would be the case.

barry cowen 20 nov Barry Cowen Source: Oireachtas TV

The Tánasite said that under the new structure single-adult households would pay €1.15 a week in charges, while households with more than one adult would pay about €3 each week.

McDonald dismissed this statement as “glib”, saying many family don’t have any money left once they pay their current bills.

In scenes reminiscent of the disagreement that lead to last week’s four-hour sit-in, the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett allowed extra time for Burton to answer McDonald’s questions.

Despite this, however, the Tánaiste didn’t actually say if the Government considered abolishing water charges altogether.

mary lou 20 nov Mary Lou McDonald Source: Oireachtas TV

‘Tea Party meets Trotskyism’

In the interview with Newstalk, the Tánaiste said that she was aware of a “weird discussion on social media” where some people suggested that she should have been kept in her car for 24 hours.

She criticised Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy for his part in the protest, saying he would not like it he were trapped in his car for hours while being  ”shouted and screamed at”.

Burton described his approach to politics as “Tea Party meets Trotskyism … extreme right meets extreme left” – something she said isn’t good for society.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie earlier this week, Murphy defended his role in the protest, saying the demonstration was largely peaceful.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Burton said the revised water charges pay structure was fair and affordable, adding that meters would help identify and fix leaks.

She said that if the country didn’t deal with the issue of raw sewage flowing into 42 rivers, the EU would “rightly fine Ireland  very significantly”.

Burton said that Environment Minister Alan Kelly had worked very hard to address the public’s concerns about Irish Water, but refused to be drawn on whether or not his predecessor Phil Hogan was to blame for the mistakes that had been made in setting up the utility.

“I’m not really going to discuss Commissioner Hogan now he’s in Europe, he has an important job to do,” she remarked.

Originally published: 12.03pm

Two arrested over protest that trapped Joan Burton in her car for hours

That was NOT a peaceful protest — Burton

Paul Murphy: It would have been peaceful to hold Joan Burton for 12 hours

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Órla Ryan

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