Riot gardai called after Minister Reilly's car is attacked by youths
A government minister was forced to abandon his car and the garda riot squad was drafted in to help retrieve it after youths began pelting the vehicle with eggs and rocks.
These were the scenes that unfolded in Dublin's Bluebell on Thursday night in an incident that saw Children's Minister James Reilly's private car left behind after an event he was attending.
A crowd of protesters gathered outside the Bluebell Youth and Community Centre where Dr Reilly was launching the first National Youth Strategy, objecting to his presence in their community for what they claimed was a "pre-election photo opportunity".
He left the event from the back of the building and was driven away by gardai "in the interests of public safety", leaving his car behind.
He was not in the vehicle at the time it was being targeted by missile-throwing youths who joined what the protesters said had been a "peaceful" protest.
The garda public order unit was later called in so the car could be retrieved.
At one point one youth could be seen running after a garda van wielding a child's scooter, attempting to strike the vehicle and missing.
The stand-off with riot police took place hours after Dr Reilly had left.
He had arrived at 2.30pm and went into the community centre.
Protesters began to assemble once it became known he was in the area.
It is understood that a number of people gathered around his car and gardai arrived at the scene.
Dr Reilly was at the launch event until about 5pm.
His spokesman said the minister was advised by gardai not to return to his car as it could provoke an incident in which somebody might get hurt.
"In the interest of public safety, the minister was driven away safely by the guards," he added.
A source said Dr Reilly left the centre by a back door and was driven away by gardai in an unmarked car without incident.
One onlooker who was at the event told the Herald that it was "a number of youths" who subsequently threw eggs and rocks at the car.
"The public order unit were called in at around 7pm. The gardai then reversed the car out of the area, preventing it from getting any more damage," he said.
"I didn't see any of the protesters throw anything. It was mostly youths, many in their young-to-mid teens."
Gardai later drove the car - which is understood to have been dented - to Kilmainham Garda Station where it stayed overnight for examination. It was returned to Dr Reilly yesterday.
Meanwhile, a post on the Eirigi Facebook page stated that Bluebell residents had "peacefully" protested against Dr Reilly's presence in their community and claimed he was "trying to use Bluebell as a backdrop for a pre-election photo-opportunity".
Gardai have confirmed that they are investigating a "public order incident in Bluebell".
They said there were no arrests and no injuries.