Protester rammed the gates of Irish parliament with a cement mixer

When 41 year old Irish property developer Joe McNamara was accused of damaging the gates of the Irish parliament with a cement truck on Wednesday, he claimed that he staged it as a protest over his unfair treatment by the banks.

McNamara, looking careworn and exhausted, was brought before Dublin District Court on Thursday charged with criminal damage and was later released on bail.

McNamara's solicitor, Cahir O'Higgins, told the court that his client had been "merely exercising his constitutional right to express an opinion."

A handful of enthusiastic supporters cheered as the 41-year-old County Galway man emerged from the courthouse.

O'Higgins told the press: "Joe wished to make a legitimate protest at what he believes to be his unfair treatment at the hands of the banks."

McNamara was arrested on Tuesday morning after he blocked the entrance to the Irish parliament with a cement mixer truck, which was emblazoned with the words "Toxic Anglo Bank." No one was injured during the incident.

McNamara, who reportedly owes Anglo 3.5 million, was questioned at Pearse Street Police Station where he was charged and held overnight.

O'Higgins told the court his client had been exercising section 40.6.1 of the Constitution, which guarantees liberty to express freely convictions and opinions.

"I make the point that my client asserts his innocence in respect of this matter," added Mr O'Higgins.

Police Sergeant John Egan said he had no objection to bail, but asked the judge to make an order that McNamara stay away from Anglo Irish Bank's headquarters on Saint Stephen's Green in the center of the city.

Judge McMahon dismissed the application by gardai, but made an order for McNamara "not to come to the unlawful attention of gardai (police force)."

On Thursday the Irish Government today admitted the state-owned Anglo Irish Bank was expected to cost Irish taxpayers at least 29.3 billion euro.