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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Sabina's friend has no problem supporting man who called Michael D 'midget'

Margaretta D’Arcy says she’ll campaign for the release of the Dublin Says No protesters. She hasn’t been asked for tea in the Áras recently, she added.

m1 D'Arcy, protesting in Galway last night. Source: Tommy Donnellan

PEACE ACTIVIST MARGARETTA D’Arcy says supporting the jailed Dublin water protesters is “absolutely vital” for democracy.

The veteran campaigner – who has been jailed a number of times in recent years over protests at Shannon Airport – said those taking part in anti-charges demonstrations shouldn’t be “intimidated by anyone”.

D’Arcy’s jailing – after she refused to promise to stay away from Shannon – made headlines in January of last year.

There was even more coverage of her case after President Higgins’ wife Sabina – a longtime friend of the activist – paid a visit to her in prison.

One of the men jailed yesterday – Derek Byrne – was at the centre of a media storm at the end of last month after footage emerged in which he could be heard calling the President a “midget parasite” as Higgins’ car left an event at a Dublin school.

Contacted by this morning, D’Arcy maintained that Higgins himself had “said worse things” during campaigns in Galway in years gone by.

“[Byrne] said it in the spur of the moment, and people are deliberately trying to make this into an issue.”

unnamed Derek Byrne Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

D’Arcy – and around 50 other protesters – took part in a solidarity demonstration in support of the Dublin group outside Mill Street Station in Galway last night.

Similar rallies took place around the country, including one in Dublin city centre — which caused traffic chaos at rush hour.

Byrne and others had led ‘Dublin Says No’ protests to the gates of Mountjoy when she was jailed at the complex’s Dochas centre, D’Arcy said — and now was her chance to return the gesture.

“People are always asking – when are the Irish going to rise up? Well we’re rising now,” she added.

Asked whether she had seen either the President or Sabina Higgins in recent months, she said:

No. They haven’t asked me for tea recently.

Read: Courts were used to ‘attack’ peaceful water protesters, says TD

Read: Watch Gerry Adams explain how Sinn Féin could afford to scrap water charges 

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