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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 19 June, 2019
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Hundreds of water protesters target Taoiseach in Sligo

Demonstrators yelled “shame on Kenny” as the Taoiseach’s car arrived.

Updated at 11.30pm

HUNDREDS OF WATER charge protesters gathered outside the Sligo Park Hotel in Sligo town this evening, where the Taoiseach attended an event.

The crowd has been estimated at some 400.

Enda Kenny’s car was briefly blocked as it arrived at the venue shortly before 7.30pm, but was quickly escorted up to the main entrance by gardaí.

His arrival was met with angry chants by demonstrators, who yelled “shame on Kenny”, “out, out, out” and “no way, we won’t pay”.

This evening’s action follows a protest that targeted the Tánaiste in Jobstown, Dublin on Saturday. Joan Burton was trapped in her car for hours by a group of demonstrators, before being evacuated from the scene by gardaí.

Groups organising tonight’s demonstration, which include Sligo Says No, Right2Water, and People Before Profit, stressed earlier that it should be a peaceful one.

One protester said there had been a bit of “rough and tumble” as Kenny’s car arrived, and RTÉ footage showed protesters attempting to stop the vehicle by jumping on the bonnet — before being pushed away by gardaí.

Speaking later, the Taoiseach told local media outlets that demonstrators had agreed not to block his car, but had reneged on that guarantee.

RTÉ/Screengrab

PBP campaigner Nigel Gallagher said he could “see why there’s anger” and said the gathering momentum behind the anti-water charges movement in recent weeks was a reaction to “six years of austerity, where the Government put the needs of the rich ahead of the poor working people”. 

Earlier, People Before Profit councillor Seamus O’Boyle said that the plan was to highlight opposition to an ”unfair” tax.

Gardaí maintained a heavy a presence at tonight’s event, and the protesters said they would be remaining outside the hotel for as long as Kenny was there.

A spokesperson for the Gardaí said there had been no arrests.

[Sligo Says No]

Burton reaction

Speaking earlier, at an event in Castlebar, Kenny said that what had happened to Joan Burton in Dublin at the weekend had been “disgraceful” and effectively amounted to kidnapping.

He also singled out Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy for criticism, saying the left-wing Deputy had been “urging on” protesters in a non-democratic fashion at the Cósan college in Jobstown.

Murphy took on a leading role in the action as events progressed on Saturday. The Tánaiste was hit with a water balloon as she attended a graduation event, and called a “c***” by protesters, before being trapped in her car.

She was eventually taken from the scene in a patrol car.

Murphy, in the days since the protest, has insisted it was peaceful — but speaking today, the Taoiseach said that the AAA politician would be telling a different story if the gardaí had detained him in a car for two hours.

Read: Alan Kelly’s constituency office got a bomb threat this morning 

Read: Video shows Joan Burton being hit with a water balloon at Jobstown protest

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