Angry scenes continued at University College Dublin today as gardaí protected construction workers entering a building site.
Up to 30 men and women, carrying placards saying "Free The Ballybrack Three", arrived at Belfield shortly after 7am to show their continuing support for the out-of-work bricklayers currently in jail for picketing a work site.
The words "Jail The Greedy Builders" were also sprayed on to a wall at the compound.
A heavy garda presence of about 40 to 50 officers were at the scene today, and moved in as workers arrived.
“There were scuffles and angry scenes as gardaí tried to move the pickets on,” one eyewitness said.
“The protestors were trying to stop the workers getting in. Then about 20 workers came together and were escorted in with two lines of gardaí on either size.
“The picketers were shouting ’scabs’ and ’scumbags’ at the workers. They also shouted 'Don’t break the picket' and ’Free the Ballybrack Three’.”
The protests at UCD and at a second site in Parnell Square are continuing despite a female garda being injured yesterday when the campaigners clashed with police.
The man added: “I don’t think the scenes were as bad as yesterday. Nobody was injured or arrested, but people were angry.”
The dispute has been running since February 10 when bricklayers William McClurg, 50, of Pearce Villas, Sallynoggin, Keith Kelly, 36, of Ashlawn Park, Ballybrack, and Andrew Clarke, 24, of Cromlech Fields, Ballybrack, were jailed for refusing to obey a court order banning them from picketing at a building site in Ballybrack.
Mr McClurg’s family say they are “delighted” that construction workers in the area are continuing to support the three.
Collen Construction Ltd, which has already closed one site over fears for the safety of their workers, claims workers are constantly being intimidated and urged the Building and Allied Trades’ Union, which represents bricklayers, carpenters and stonecutters, to ask members to leave the picket lines.
A garda spokeswoman said officers would only react if there was a need to intervene in a public disorder offence.
“Where there is any group gathering and any possibility of a public disorder incident, we would be in attendance,” she added.
The three accused, who claim the company refused them employment with Collen Construction Ltd, as they were local and union members, have refused to purge their contempt in Dublin’s High Court.
They are due to reappear in the High Court on Monday.