Water protesters target individual gardaí

Individual gardaí have been sub-jected to direct and online threats, including attempts to establish their home addresses, in the wake of the policing of recent anti-water charge protests.

There have also been online threats to petrol-bomb Garda stations after tense scenes at Coolock Garda Station on Wednesday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night claimed that “thugs” were taking over the anti-water charge protests.

A vitriolic campaign was launched against one member of the force following the incident. One person posted a message on Facebook which read: “Someone knows her, reward for her name and home address.” Another posted: “This vile bitch, can anyone name her.”

Others were even more militant. “It is now time to take direct action against garda stations, ie petrol bombs or some such,” wrote one on social media. Another said: “Its time to bring out the petrol booms [sic] and show the garda that they can’t do what they like to the people that are protesting peacefully. The garda are scum. Its time for a good riot.”

The threats prompted the Garda Representative Association, whose members are rank-and-file officers, to warn that gardaí are “increasingly concerned that the uniform no longer offers the protection of our democratic society”.

GRA president Dermot O’Brien said: “Recent protests, notably in North Dublin, are causing concern for gardaí on the frontline. Rank- and-file gardaí do not make laws, and are required to pay the charges themselves. Members work with peaceful protesters, but this darker element is to be condemned by the public, media and political leaders.”

Mr O’Brien said the GRA had asked Garda management to step up resources to protect its members from threats to their personal safety.

“We appreciate there is public anger, but this should not be dir-ected at individual members of An Garda Síochána who are workers directed by their supervisors to uphold our laws,” he said.

Last night, the Right2Water campaign said it would be appalled at targeting of any individual. It said it was committed to campaigning peacefully for the recognition that water is a human right, and for the abolition of domestic water charges.

“Right2Water believes gardaí have been put in an invidious position by the Government’s massively unpopular water charges policy.”

Mr Kenny said: “I object very strongly to a situation where thugs are being ferried in to these protests and taking over from ordinary people who might want to voice their concerns.”

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