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Minister: Take your anger out on me in the election --- but leave the water contractors alone

He’s the latest Cabinet member to hit out at demonstrators involved in protest actions in housing estates.

The scene at Coolock Garda Station this week.
The scene at Coolock Garda Station this week.
Image: Cllr. John Lyons via Twitter

TRANSPORT MINISTER PASCHAL Donohue is the latest Cabinet member to hit out at anti-Irish Water protesters engaged in demonstrations in housing estates where contractors are installing meters.

It follows comments by Leo Varadkar earlier this week that there was a “sinister fringe” of violent protesters involved in the movement. Last month, Tánaiste Joan Burton came in for criticism when she said that protesters were using “expensive” smartphones and cameras to film workers and gardaí.

Protesters from anti-austerity group Dublin Says No and other organisations have been engaged in ongoing protests in suburban estates on the northside of Dublin. They regularly film workers installing meters, and upload the footage to Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. In some videos, the protesters can be seen verbally harassing the workers, and standing in the path of equipment.

On Wednesday, the High Court granted an order setting up a 20-metre exclusion zone around water meter installations.

Later that night, a protest outside Coolock Garda Station turned violent, and some protesters alleged that pepper spray was used to try and disperse the crowd (gardaí wouldn’t say whether it was or not).

Speaking on RTÉ radio this afternoon, Donohue said that none of the concerns people had about water charges could “legitimise the treatment that workers in Irish Water are currently being subjected to”.

There are people out there that are ordinary people. They are doing a very hard job putting in these meters — it’s hard work and they’re doing it in tough circumstances.

Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images ... Minister for Transport,Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe

If people are not happy with what’s going on – I know so many people are not – the answer is to take it out on people like me in the ballot box if they want to. The answer is not to take it out on people that are doing a hard job for an average wage.

On the same programme, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said that people had the right to protest peacefully, but that threatening or intimidating behaviour was clearly wrong.

He added:

But that also applies to members of the gardaí who in some instances have been very very heavy handed in some of their tactics.

In a statement yesterday, rank-and-file gardaí said there was active “darker element” among the protest movement.

Garda Representative Association President Dermot O’Brien said that in a number of cases, “members have been subjected to threats to their personal safety and property both directly and online”.

Burton: €200 water bill for four adult family is my personal hope… and Enda is on the same page

Read: Anger outside Coolock Garda Station after water charge protesters are arrested

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