Lockdown at City Hall to keep out protesters

A major security operation is being planned to prevent protests disrupting the election of the new lord mayor of Cork on Friday night.

City officials are planning a ‘lockdown’ of City Hall after anti-property and water tax campaigners threatened to target Cork City Council’s AGM.

Members of the Cork Campaign Against Household and Water Tax have disrupted council meetings twice in recent months.

Last October, gardaí were called to City Hall after campaigners occupied the chamber during a council meeting.

Over a dozen gardaí were called to City Hall again last January to end a stand-off after the same protesters forced the abandonment of another council meeting.

Some councillors refused to leave the chamber until protesters, who had shouted at them from the public galleries, were ordered to leave. The stand-off ended peacefully after about an hour.

The same protesters are planning to target Friday’s AGM, during which Cllr Catherine Clancy (Lab) is expected to be elected as Cork lord mayor — with a salary of €110,000 — under the mayoral pact that sees the chain of office rotate between Fine Gael, Labour, and Fianna Fáil.

Campaign spokesman John Lonergan said protesters plan to gather at the peace park at the junction of Grand Parade and South Mall from 6.15pm, before marching to City Hall to protest outside.

“We are planning a peaceful protest but some people want to get in [to City Hall],” he said.

“We are leaving it up to individual campaign branches but if individual members want to gain access, then it’s up to them.”

City officials have told councillors the building will be in effective lockdown for the meeting. Extra gardaí are being drafted in and a private security firm has been hired for back-up.

Access to the chamber’s public balconies will be strictly controlled, with admittance granted only to guests with official invites.

Local representatives have been told to bring their official City Hall ID cards with them to guarantee access.

It is expected to be one of the most secure city council AGMs in recent memory.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien, a former city councillor, criticised the mayoral pact.

“I think you should be considered for the position on your own ability and anything that doesn’t allow that is wrong,” he said.

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