herald

Monday 26 September 2016

Security bill €33k after protests at council HQ

COSTS

Gina Ward from Balbriggan at a water protest in Swords on 13/4/2015
Gina Ward from Balbriggan at a water protest in Swords on 13/4/2015
Eugene Coppinger

Fingal County Council has had to spend €33,000 on extra security since property tax and water charge protesters started disrupting council meetings at its offices in Swords.

The figure was revealed after a stand-off between protesters and gardai on Monday saw a protester suffer facial injuries when a pane of glass in the doors of the council offices shattered as gardai tried to remove her.

A video posted by campaigners showed a bloodied Gina Ward on her way to receive medical attention afterwards.

READ MORE: Injured protester remains silent on incident at council offices

While council management has not received a quote for the repair of the door, the damage is estimated to be in the region of €3,000 to €4,000.

A figure of €33,000 spent by the council on security was quoted in response to a question to the council's chief executive by Fianna Fail Councillor Darragh Butler.

He asked how much was spent since protesters tried to invade the council chamber in February 2013.

meetings

Council management said the figure was needed to provide a safe working environment for staff and councillors.

"Security costs in relation to future meetings in 2015 will be monitored on an ongoing basis," they added.

Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Eugene Coppinger (inset above) defended the right of the protesters to continue their campaigns and said that he would not discourage groups engaged in protests at the Swords offices.

However, he also said that he would never want to see anyone put themselves in danger while protesting.

"I see councillors talking about the cost of security, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the money being handed from motor tax to Irish Water to pay for its running," he told the Herald.

Following a protest in February, Mayor of Fingal County Council Mags Murray told how a group of anti-water charge protesters blocked her exit from a meeting for more than an hour and prevented her getting to hospital to see her daughter.

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