“Out of touch” Government must listen – Jobstown priest

Protests against water charges have turned violent

Louise McCarthy

A parish priest in west Dublin has insisted that demonstrators against water charges must make their protest peacefully. However, Fr Paul Ludden warned that politicians must start to listen to the concerns of ordinary people.

Violent protests against water charges in Jobstown at the weekend left Tánaiste Joan Burton trapped in her car for over two hours.

St Mark’s parish priest, Fr Ludden, serving a number of areas in west Tallaght, including Jobstown, criticised the “aggressive” nature of some aspects of the protests.

Fr Ludden said it was “unfortunate” that a graduation ceremony clashed with the protest. However, he added that the protests were due to a sense of public frustration with the Government.

“I think people have a right to peaceful protests. Politicians are not listening to the ordinary people. I have met a lot of people who are dissatisfied with the Government. They feel that it is out of touch. People can get the message across more clearly by people being peaceful. By having an aggressive protest, it is damaging and inflicts weakness on the reason for the protest,” according to Fr Ludden.

Local TD Paul Murphy was strongly criticised for his role in the protest during which Ms Burton was hit in the face with a water balloon. However, while Mr Murphy strongly condemned violence at the protest, he said he would support similar future protests.

Ms Burton was met by angry protesters when she attended the graduation ceremony for locals who had participated in adult education courses. Approximately 100 protestors surrounded minister Burton’s car leaving her trapped for two hours. The Tánaiste claims protestors rocked her car, banged on the windows and roof, and attempted to topple the car over.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was surrounded by angry protestors at the Mansion House, Dublin, last Saturday and again in Sligo last Monday.