Dail protest councillor feared she was going to be beaten
Published 07/07/2015 | 00:00
Wexford county councillor Deirdre Wadding said she feared she was going to be beaten by a garda armed with a baton during protests outside the Dáil in which a female officer was hit with a bottle.
'There was a massive cordon of guards, some being very aggressive and as I made my way past them I kept telling them "you're here to keep the peace, not to harm people",' said Cllr. Wadding, among a group of water charge demonstrators from Wexford who took part in a rally and subsequent sit-down protest on Kildare Street outside the Dáil last Wednesday (July 1).
'There was one who was particularly aggressive. I had my hands in the air, but I was quite prepared to get a belt,' she said.
Speaking during the Dáil debate as the protests continued, former justice minister Alan Shatter claimed that there was an 'anti-democratic mob 'protesting outside Leinster House and that the garda response was inadequate.
Labour senators Mary Moran and Denis Landy were among those who had to abandon their cars on Kildare Street during the sit-down protest.
Mr Landy later described the protest as an affront to democracy and the right of parliament to function and a number of politicians from various political parties and groups were advised not to leave Leinster House by car due to the protests during which two men were arrested and a female garda was struck by a flying bottle.
Cllr. Wadding conceded that 'some of the crowd had reacted quite badly' to the gardai, but described the protest as 'a demonstration of democracy in action'. Most of those present were rallying in support of anti-austerity camp in Greece and against domestic water charges
'I was very very proud to have been sitting there taking a stand with people protesting about what's going on.. this is not going away, the protest movement will not stop until this government has gone,' she said.
Demonstrators claimed that gardaí used batons on some of them after stopping cars belonging to politicians from leaving Leinster House.
Former Wexford councillor and Labour activist Joe Ryan he had 'organised more than a few (protests) in my own time, however, in February she (Cllr. Wadding) said that Right To Water demonstrations were peaceful and had no intention causing disruption to people going about their business. Given that a garda was struck by a bottle and knocked unconscious and that demonstrators then laughed at this and photographed the incident.. the episode suggests a different direction is being taken in demonstrations.'
Cllr. Wadding said she remained outside the Dail without a handful of other protests until midnight when she claims a senior member of the gardai pushed her and said she could not abuse people.