MEP vows to continue protests

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy has insisted his arrest will not stop anti-water charge and property tax protesters stepping-up their campaigns.

He denied accusations from some critics that the sit-in actions targeting council chambers and TDs offices had fascistic overtones because the interventions disrupted democratic institutions.

“It is a joke to say this has fascistic overtones — the Government has no mandate to implement its policies. Fine Gael and Labour both said they were against a property tax at the last election,” he said.

However, a Fine Gael councillor present branded the incident a “violent protest” which left people injured.

Mr Murphy insisted the protests were needed because the concerns of voters were being ignored.

“Fine Gael and Labour have a very limited idea of democracy — democracy is not just something that happens in parliaments and council chambers. Peaceful protests are also part of democracy. I anticipate an escalation of this civil disobedience aimed at legitimate targets. Any political party or institution involved with the property tax is a target,” said Mr Murphy, who was one of five people arrested on Monday night after disrupting a meeting of South Dublin County Council.

Demonstrations were also held at meetings of Fingal, Galway, and Kilkenny councils, but no arrests were made there.

Mr Murphy accused the Garda of “very heavy handed” tactics.

The MEP said he was arrested for disturbing the peace while giving a phone interview to a radio station from within the council chamber.

Mr Murphy said he is considering a complaint to the Garda ombudsman over the way the incident was handled, and that his own case was now in the hands of the DPP.

Fine Gael South Dublin councillor Colm Brophy branded the demonstration “an act of violent protest” intended to get Mr Murphy publicity for his Dublin re-election campaign next year.

Cllr Brophy said the demonstrators started “jumping up and down and shouting” and he commended the gardaí for their intervention.

“Everybody has the right to protest, but what took place was not peaceful protest — what took place was an act of violent protest. It was the storming of the council building. It was people using force which injured people who just turned up to go to work — injured them so they could barge into a meeting,” he told RTÉ.

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