Protesters cut city council meeting short for third time

Protesters opposed to water and property taxes forced the abandonment of another Cork City Council meeting last night, branding councillors “fucking rats” and “traitors”.

Lord Mayor Catherine Clancy cut the meeting short after 30 minutes when nearly 50 people from the Ballyphehane South Parish anti-water and property tax group occupied the public gallery and hurled abuse at councillors.

It is the third time in recent months that a meeting has been abandoned because of protests inside the council chamber.

Group spokesman Brian Gould defended their actions. “We were forced in to what we did by the lord mayor and city officials,” he said. “I asked the lord mayor personally to open more of the public galleries and she refused.

“We have a right to be in here, to sit down comfortably and listen to the meeting, but the lord mayor didn’t want that. She wants us all crammed in like cattle in to one space.”

He said the group plans to continue its campaign of disrupting council meetings.

John O’Donovan from Togher, who waved a plastic rat at councillors, said the protesters are not “rabble or hooligans”.

“We don’t want to be acting like this. But we were driven to it,” he said. “They packed us all in to one area. They were looking for a reaction and they got it.

“And I’ll tell you something else: The pickets are going back on outside councillors’ doors.”

Edmond O’Sullivan, from Greenmount, said he hoped the protest demonstrated the level of anger among people who feel they are not being listened to. “I never thought I’d see the day I’d be in here in the council chambers of my own city fighting for a cause.”

Cllr Tom Gould (SF) said the protest shows the level of anger as people face into another budget.

“People feel the Government aren’t listing to them and people are hurting,” he said.

Cllr Emmet O’Halloran (FG) said the protest shows the group’s lack of understanding of how the political system works.

“The decisions that are unpalatable for all of us aren’t being made here,” he said.

“Local elections take place in a few months. If the same group want to effect change, perhaps the roaring and shouting would be more effective inside the chamber as elected councillors, as opposed to from the gallery as protestors.”

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