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I'm against the water charges, but violence is very disturbing

Health levies, pension levies, wage cuts, welfare cuts, universal social charges, property tax.

Enda Kenny was right when he said it wasn't about the water.

All the above were imposed during the years of austerity on an overburdened Irish population, who endured them all with acceptance and stoic resignation.

Maybe the national mood was so subdued and docile then that it emboldened the Government to introduce ever more austere measures.

However, water charges appear to be the straw that broke the camel's back. They have unleashed the fury of ordinary people.

revolt

Over the past few weeks and months thousands have taken to the streets to protest the introduction of the charges. The movement has all the appearances of a popular revolt.

It has certainly shook the Government, forcing them into a seemingly endless series of u-turns on the issue.

They came on foot of protests staged by ordinary men, woman and children, exercising their democratic right to protest in a peaceful manner.

However, recent protests have taken a disturbing turn, which I can only condemn. I'm referring to two in particular, in Jobstown and Sligo.

In Tallaght, Tanaiste Joan Burton was imprisoned in her car for two hours by protesters egged on by her Dail colleague, TD Paul Murphy. Ms Burton was jostled, verbally abused and hit by a water balloon (inset below).

The whole scene, as it appeared on TV, looked menacing and threatening. The scenes were far from peaceful in my view and it was totally unacceptable that the deputy leader of our country was, in effect, falsely imprisoned for two hours.

movement

It would appear from recent demonstrations that a threatening fringe element has piggybacked onto the genuine people in the water protest movement.

Such scenes were repeated in Sligo last Monday night, when gardai were forced to intervene as protesters confronted Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

I've no doubt that such behaviour will be condemned by all genuine water protesters.

I am opposed to the imposition of water charges, and have taken part in protests in my local area. I've written about the issue in these pages.

And the work of genuine protesters should not be demonised by the actions of a few.

People must be allowed vent their anger, as protest is the most powerful weapon in any democracy.

But they must do so peacefully.


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