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'It's a weird side-effect': Activist hopes PigeonGate video will bring attention to housing movement

Footage shared at the weekend showed one man abusing the protesters and another in his group threw a pigeon head at them.

AN ACTIVIST WHO had a pigeon’s head thrown at her at the housing rally on Saturday has said she does not want the incident to overshadow the point of the protest, but hopes it has made more people aware of the movement. 

Thousands of people took part in the day of action in Dublin’s city centre on Saturday, organised by Take Back the City. Protesters marched through the city before staging a sit-down, cutting off all four corners of O’Connell Bridge.

During the sit-down, one of the activists who was taking part tweeted a video showing a  group of English men dressed in brightly coloured trousers moving through the crowd on O’Connell Bridge.

One of them, a man in purple trousers, refers to the protesters as “fucking scroungers” and “lazy bastards”.

Another one of the men – wearing pink trousers – can be then seen throwing something in the direction of Dearvaile, who was filming them while sitting on the road with a group of friends.

The footage then shows a pigeon’s head on the road. 

“I obviously ducked when he threw something, which is why the camera moves because I was moving out of the way. I didn’t know what it was but when I realised I didn’t know how to react,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“There was a man beside us with small kids and he came over to ask what it was. So he lifted it up to move it, there was blood underneath at the neck so it was fresh.”

The activist, who said she has been involved with Take Back the City since the start, said she and her friends are used to receiving abuse at protests. 

“I feel like it happens at every one now, even from people who probably support what we’re there for.”

She said the comments were not surprising, but her friend had pointed out to the man who called them “scroungers” that it was a Saturday and they actually have jobs. 

‘Horrible’

Gillian Bird of the DSPCA today expressed concern about the incident.

“We’d be worried about anybody harming pigeons or any animal.

Bird said it “would be rare for the pigeons in the city to be catchable unless they are extremely ill or dead.”

She said she has seen examples of dead pigeons having their heads removed by rats.

They drag the carcass away and leave the head, that’s the bit that’s not wanted. So in theory it is the kind of thing you could find around the place, it’s not impossible. Either way it’s a horrible thing to happen.

‘A weird side-effect’

Dearvaile said she was reluctant to make a big deal of the incident, but since the video has gone viral now she hopes it will bring attention to the general movement.

“I don’t want people to look at this and just ignore the point of the protest.

“It’s a weird side-effect, but people are talking about the protest because of it. That’s why I changed my Twitter name to show details of the rally on 3 October, more people might see it. And hopefully as a result more people will turn up.”

The next demonstration is planned for 12.30pm on 3 October outside Leinster House.

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