Garda injured in builders' protest

A Garda was injured today when a protest in support of the Ballybrack Three turned to violence.

Around 40 construction workers, picketing a work site at UCD, were involved in the clash with officers.

The demonstrators were highlighting their loyalty for three out-of-work bricklayers, currently in jail for boycotting a court order banning them from protesting at a compound.

It’s alleged abusive remarks were being hurled at construction workers and protestors were trying to stop vehicles entering the compound when officers moved forward to keep order.

A Garda spokeswoman said around 40 protesters were at the scene from 7am until 12.45pm today.

She confirmed a female colleague was slightly injured but did not need hospital treatment and added that no arrests were made at the scene.

But despite today’s outcome, the activists are expected to return to the picket line at Belfield in the morning.

Construction workers have been picketing at sites belonging to Collen Construction Ltd since February 10 when William McClurg, 50, of Pearce Villas, Sallynoggin, Keith Kelly, 36, of Ashlawn Park, Ballybrack, and Andrew Clarke, 24, of Cromlech Fields, Ballybrack, were jailed.

All three claim the company refused to employ them to work on the build of 77 new homes for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council in Ballybrack as they were local and union members

They have refused to purge their contempt in Dublin’s High Court for staging the original pickets and are due to reappear before Ms Justice Mary Laffoy on Monday.

Speaking from Mr McClurg’s family home today, his daughter Rachel, 23, said she supported the protests but not violence.

“I am delighted the men are still protesting and continuing their support for my father and the other two men, but there is no need for violence,” she said.

“They were locked up for wanting to work. He is getting angry now and more people are coming out because they are beginning to get angry for them.

“When my dad was on the picket he said he never heard anyone abusing anyone, and people on the pickets this week are saying the same.”

John Gallagher, spokesman for Collen Construction Ltd, said that the pickets have “gradually been getting more aggressive“, adding that the Gardaí have been ’remarkably restrained’ in recent days.

“We understand the protesters are accusing the Gardaí of being heavy handed, but today was the third day of a completely illegal picket at UCD,” he said.

“We had to close the Ballybrack site for health and safety reasons. Workers were being threatened and intimidated and a female architect who was threatened was not prepared to go back.”

Mr Gallagher said more serious attacks had been carried out on workers in the last week.

He continued: “One young apprentice was followed from the UCD site to a nearby shop where he was assaulted and a carpenter working at our Parnell Square site had a knife pulled on him.

“But despite the protestors, workers are insisting on going into work which seemed to anger many of the picketers today.”

Collen Construction Ltd still deny the men were not employed because they are local and union members.

Mr Gallagher added: “Collen Construction are not keeping the three bricklayers in jail. They can release themselves at any time by promising the High Court to comply with the law.

“A number of our workers were from the Ballybrack locality before it was closed and there were also trade union members among them.

“The three people concerned demanded that because they were local they should be employed, and that was not possible without letting existing workers go.”


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