herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Minister Reilly forced to flee under garda protection after protesters fire missiles at car

Public Order Unit called to scene of protest as minister is forced to abandon the vehicle

The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)
The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)
The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)
The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)

Children's Minister James Reilly was forced to flee a community centre under Garda protection after dozens of protesters surrounded his car and attacked it with missiles and eggs.

The minister was not in the car as it was targeted by as many as 34 demonstrators during the incident at Bluebell in west Dublin, according to his spokesman.

Mr Reilly had arrived at the Bluebell Community Centre yesterday afternoon for the launch of the National Youth Strategy and walked inside without any incident.

Unknown to him, protesters then gathered around his own private car as his ministerial driver parked it a short distance away.

One source said: "Very quickly people gathered around the car and the driver realised a situation was developing. There was a period when the driver was not being facilitated in getting out of the car."

Gardai who arrived at the scene advised the Fine Gael minister that if he returned to his car it could provoke an incident in which someone might get hurt, a ministerial spokesman said.

He was ushered to a rear door in the community centre and taken away in another car driven by a Garda officer at around 5pm.

The crowd stayed on for several hours before gardai drove the minister's own car to Kilmainham Garda Station where it was kept overnight for examination before being returned to Mr Reilly's driver.

The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)
The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)

"It was pelted with eggs and other missiles," said a source.

"There is damage to the car, the extent of it remains to be seen, but there are certainly dents."

The minister's spokesman said Mr Reilly was unaware of the protest until he was advised to leave through the back door and escorted away.

The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)
The Public Order Unit attended the scene to remove the minister's car from the area (Photo: John Rooney)

"Minister Reilly took the advice of An Garda Siochana that in the interest of public safety he would not return to his car," he said.

"There was a concern that to do so could provoke an incident in which somebody might get hurt.

"Minister Reilly was driven safely away in another vehicle and did not himself see the protest."

Gardai confirmed they were investigating the incident.

"We are investigating a public order incident at Bluebell. There was no one arrested and no one injured," a Garda spokesman said.

Security measures to protect the coalition Cabinet were reviewed after a series of demonstrations targeting ministers.

A bomb threat was made to Environment Minister Alan Kelly's constituency office while Finance Minister Michael Noonan had to leave through a side door from a hotel function in Limerick late last year.

Tanaiste Joan Burton was also barricaded in a car for two-and-a-half hours after coming under siege in Jobstown, west Dublin, by anti-water charge protesters.

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