herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Water protesters block ministers at gates of school

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan was blocked from leaving a school in north Dublin by anti-water charge protesters.

The Labour Party politician was visiting Gaelcholaiste Reachrann in Donaghmede when her car was impeded by demonstrators.

Ms O'Sullivan was delayed for 40 minutes after about a dozen demonstrators blocked the main exit.

It's understood that another group of protesters based themselves at a different exit.

targeted

She is the latest senior government minister to be targeted by anti-water charge protesters while on official ministerial business.

Ms O'Sullivan was visiting Gaelcholaiste Reachrann to meet the school principal about a building project.

She was accompanied by junior Labour minister Aodhan O'Riordain.

Students showed the politicians some of their artwork during the visit.

It is understood that Ms O'Sullivan visited four schools in the Dublin Bay North constituency yesterday, but there were no protesters at any of the other schools.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education confirmed that the minister was delayed by protesters at the Donaghmede school.

"Minister O'Sullivan was delayed for approximately 40 minutes by a small group of protesters at an entrance to Gaelcholaiste Reachrann in Donaghamede. She was then able to continue with the rest of her engagements.

"The minister respects the right of people to engage in peaceful protests," the spokesperson told the Herald.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Joan Burton has said that anti-water charge protesters planning to travel to Killarney, Co Kerry, where the Labour Party will hold its conference over the coming weekend, must act within the law.

Ms Burton said they were free to protest, but called on them to respect her party's right to hold its conference.

She said that Labour is a democratic party, and the essence of democratic politics is that people should respect that everybody who is involved in politics has the right to conduct their politics and to hold their party conferences.

"But of course people who want to protest, they're free to protest wherever provided it's done within our laws," the Tanaiste pointed out.

forced

Earlier this week, anti-water charge protesters forced the abandonment of a meeting of the city council in Cork.

Around 20 protesters forced their way past security personnel and into the council chamber shortly after the meeting began.

They were cheered on by more protesters gathered in the public gallery.

One of the demonstrators made a speech from the floor of the council chamber calling for support for the anti-water charge demonstrators who were jailed in Dublin.

It isn't the first time that water charge protesters have forced the suspension of a council meeting in Cork. A number have been disrupted in the past year. The meeting was adjourned to a later date.

fdillon@herald.ie

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