Protesters break through Garda lines at Labour conference

Hundreds of angry protesters stormed Garda barricades at a Labour Party conference today.

Crowds of placard-waving campaigners broke through security lines to picket the Bailey Allen building at NUI Galway, where the coalition party was holding its annual party meeting.

The protesters used a coffin draped in the Irish flag as a battering ram, chanting: “They say cut back, we say fight back.”

There were reports of gardaí using pepper spray to hold the crowd back.

One 13-year-old protester from Ballymun said he was threatened with the spray.

“I’m here because I want to fight for my future,” said the young protester. “I want to be able to go to college, but Eamon Gilmore won’t let that happen.”

Just hours before the protest outside the university grounds descended into chaos, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore sent a message to the protesters.

“[I would tell them] to have a nice day,” said Mr Gilmore.

The conference is continuing.

"If they disagree with us, that's their democratic right," said Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.

"If they wish to protest, that's their democratic right, but they have no democratic right to basically stop another political party, committed to democracy, to go about its business.

"So I must say I think it's a great pity that they should have behaved in the way they have."

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