McDonald told to make complaint over policing of protests to GSOC

Joan Burton says gardaí managed protests well under very difficult circumstances

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald should make a complaint to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) if she felt gardaí had acted inappropriately at a Dublin protest against water charges last weekend.

Ms McDonald said while she dissociated herself from the behaviour seen at a water charges protest in Tallaght, she equally dissociated herself from the behaviour of a very small number of gardaí who had been “extremely heavy-handed and extremely rough” with protesters.

Joan Burton was trapped in her car in west Tallaght for over two hours on Saturday after being hit by a water balloon while entering a graduation ceremony in a local centre.

Ms Burton told the Dail today the windscreen of a car she was in was broken.


She strongly criticised some of those involved in the protest when replying to Ms McDonald at Opposition leaders’ questions.

Ms McDonald told the Dail “protesters have a perfect right to be treated lawfully, respectfully and not to be flung against a bollard,” she added.

Ms Burton said a small minority of people from different groups were involved, adding that the virulence of the language directed towards gardai and others was extraordinary.

“These are fellow Irish citizens and the Garda Siochana is tasked with guarding everybody in this State and they do a very good job under difficult circumstances as they did in Tallaght on Saturday,” she added.

She criticised the “provocative nature of the language, the sexed-up nature of the language, the imagery in the language relating to women” used by some protestors. Male gardai, she said, had been subjected to “homophobic and bullying language”.

She said she did not know what was on those people’s minds.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times