Colm Walsh, 36, who was recovering at home in Cork City last night vowed to resume protesting in Ballyphehane today, and said he will resist meter installation with his “dying breath”.
“I have been told by doctors to rest but I will be back out tomorrow. I’m so passionate about this, that I will continue to protest if it takes my dying breath,” he said.
The father of five was speaking after gardaí forcibly removed him from blocking an Irish Water contractor van at the entrance to Clareville Estate in Ballyphehane yesterday morning.
Mr Walsh and John Lonergan, a member of the Ballyphehane/South Parish anti- water charges group, had linked arms and stood in front of the van.
Gardaí had warned they were obstructing traffic, and when they refused to move, gardaí physically removed them.
As they neared the footpath, Mr Walsh fell to the ground. An onlooker, Packie Flood, fell on to his left arm. A garda landed on his back.
Mr Walsh, who had a stent inserted after suffering two heart attacks last year, said he struck his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious. He said when he came round, he experienced chest pains. Gardaí and a fellow protestor rendered first aid while they waited for an ambulance.
Mr Walsh was taken to Cork University Hospital for a check-up and was discharged later with instructions to rest.
“I was very, very, shaken by the incident. This was garda brutality. It was a total disgrace. We were peacefully protesting and they came in with huge force,” he said.
The head of policing in Cork City, Chief Supt Mick Finn, defended the force’s handling of the protest.
“We have been very tolerant of and restrained in our dealings with water protestors in Cork. But they were blocking the road. We can’t ignore that. People have to go to work,” he said.
“If protestors are blocking a road and interfering with people who have no connection to a water protest, then that’s crossing the line and we have to move in.”