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CEO of An Cosan on anti-water charges protest: 'I was spat at, abused and had my necklace broken ... I was terrified'


Liz Waters, CEO of Cosan (Right)

Liz Waters, CEO of Cosan (Right)

Liz Waters, CEO of Cosan (Right)

The CEO of An Cosan has revealed she was spat at and had her necklace broken during water-charge protests at her organisation' s graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Liz Waters is head of the further education centre in Jobstown that invited Tanaiste Joan Burton to their graduation ceremony.

Ms Burton was hit in the head with a water balloon and protesters surrounded her car in ugly scenes that occurred when the demonstration became "less than democratic, according to Ms Waters".

"I don't think what I experienced could be described as peaceful. I was spat at, it may not have been intended for me but it landed on me," she said.

Her remarks came as senior government figures were faced with more protests at events around the country.


Approximately 400 protesters gathered outside a Co Sligo hotel where Taoiseach Enda Kenny was attending a Fine Gael meeting.

There were minor scuffles between some protesters and Gardai as Mr Kenny's car arrived at about 7:30pm and the car was trapped for just under five minutes.

Officers removed one man who was clinging to the bonnet before protest organisers asked the crowd to allow the car through.

Earlier, Finance Minister Michael Noonan was heckled by about 80 protesters in Limerick at the launch of an anti-drugs campaign in the city.

Liz Waters recalled Saturday's shocking scenes at Jobstown where Ms Burton was trapped in her car by protesters for about two and a half hours as she tried to leave.

"We were surrounded by a group [of protesters], I had my necklace broken, we were hunched up together."

"I was frightened, I don't know about Joan she's a very strong woman, but I was. We had cameras shoved in our faces, that's when she got hit with the balloon. I was concerned for her safety."

Ms Waters, who has had no political affiliation, described how she suffered verbal abuse from the protesters on what was meant to be the group's "academic highlight" of the year.

"It was not a nice experience on what should have been a really happy day", she said.

However, she maintained that she fully supports active citizenship and had expected the protest in the west Dublin suburb to be like the previous peaceful demonstrations in which her staff and students had taken part.

"We knew there was going to be a protest, you need to realise we fully support active citizen protest. We felt it was going to be like protests that many of students and staff joined on the streets of Dublin", she said.

Speaking on Newstalk the An Cosan chief executive also expressed her anger at having the name of Jobstown blackened by people she believed were not residents.

Ms Waters stated "I think there was a sense that this became something less than a democratic protest which is one thing that angers me because the name of west Tallaght is again dragged and vilified".