The Labour Party has insisted “security concerns” led to the cancellation of a centenary commemoration which was due to be held in the town where the party was founded.
Labour has now been accused of “hiding” by an affiliate of the United Left Alliance who held a protest yesterday in Clonmel which was designed to coincide with Labour’s unveiling of a plaque.
Mayor of Clonmel Cllr Darren Ryan was due to unveil the plaque at 12pm to commemorate 100 years since James Connolly and Jim Larkin founded the party.
However, a spokesperson for the party said “security concerns” put to the local membership by gardaí prompted the re-scheduling of the event. Local gardaí said they did not tell Labour to call off the ceremony.
Mr Ryan said it was his decision to cancel the event and came after fears arose about outside protesters — not members of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group — jeopardising security.
TD Seamus Healy of the WUAG accused the government party of “hiding” from the protest.
But Mr Ryan said: “I’m a democrat and agree totally that people have a right to protest in a peaceful manner, but my understanding is that some people weren’t intending on protesting in a peaceful manner. I have a duty as mayor of the town to ensure that the people on the streets are safe and also that the building they call their town hall is safe.
“On that basis, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to subject the town to any kind of unlawful behaviour.”
Up to 200 people were due to attend the commemoration. Instead, a private ceremony was held to unveil the plaque. Mr Ryan denied the decision was made out of Labour fears they would be outnumbered on the streets by the WUAG, which has five members on the local council, compared to one for Labour.
Mr Healy said as far as the WUAG was concerned, there was no security risk. “It was always going to be a peaceful protest,” he said. “They’re just hiding.”
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