Man drives cement mixer into Dáil gates

Man drives cement mixer into Dáil gates

A disgruntled builder blocked the entrance to Dáil today after he drove a cement mixer into the front gates.

A 41-year-old man was arrested after a lorry, emblazoned with the words “Toxic Bank Anglo”, clipped the iron barriers and was abandoned.

No one was injured and the only damage was scuff marks on the black painted gates.

A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas said the truck protest would not affect proceedings on the first day of the new term.

Witnesses said the lorry driver stopped just short of ramming the gates of Leinster House, on Kildare Street, before he climbed on the roof of his cab while gardaí smashed its windows with batons.

Carol Treacy, owner of the Petit Cafe opposite the Dáil, said she was preparing for business when the drama unfolded just after 7am.

“I heard a big air brake sound. I thought it was the coffee machine,” she said.

“I went outside and saw a big, huge cement truck had just drove straight up to Leinster House gates and a female garda was calling for help.

“This guy just hopped out of the cab, locked it and just hopped on a ladder and got on top of the truck.”

Ms Treacy said there was a large garda presence at the Dáil within minutes, with officers attempting to coax the lone protester down before he handed himself in without a struggle.

“There were police everywhere, but it was all very calm,” she said.

“They were just trying to get him down. He wasn‘t shouting or being abusive or anything, he was just standing on top of the truck. The guards were telling him to get down.”

Crowds of passers-by and commuters gathered at the scene shortly after the incident.

“Some people were very sympathetic towards him. He was just a lone protester and it was quite a dramatic way to protest,” Ms Treacy added.

A female Garda officer and security staff were on duty when the builder drove up and abandoned the lorry, which had the registration “Bankrupt”.

“Toxic Bank Anglo” was painted in giant red letters along the white rolling barrel of the cement truck.

It is understood the brakes in the truck were disabled, immobilising the cement lorry.

A large recovery tow truck was given a Garda escort through the city centre as mechanics tried to shift the vehicle with specialist equipment before TDs arrived for the new session.

The 41-year-old man suspected of driving the truck was being questioned in a city centre Garda station and can be held for 24 hours.

In April, a cement mixer truck, with similar wording on it, was abandoned outside a branch of Anglo Irish Bank on Forster Street, Galway. The cabin was locked and the engine left running.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd claimed the on-duty Garda had to jump out of the way of the truck.

“If it had been later in the morning, staff could have been killed, public could have been killed,” said the opposition politician, who was first at the scene.

“I think it’s a very serious incident and I think it’s an appalling vista to be doing your job as a garda or usher in Dáil Eireann and to be seriously injured.”

The protest was linked to controversial plans by the Government to plough more than €20bn into State-owned Anglo Irish Bank.

The full cost to the taxpayer of the bail out is to be announced tomorrow.

Its former chairman, Sean FitzPatrick, was declared bankrupt in July – owing the institution about €110m.

The ex-banker, who resigned from Anglo in December 2008 following a loans scandal, is also at the centre of a massive fraud and corporate mismanagement investigation by the Garda and watchdog Paul Appleby, the director of corporate enforcement.

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