Irish Environment Minister Phil Hogan was forced to seek refuge in a cathedral when irate Irish anti-household charge protesters turned up at the minister's planned launch of the County Carlow County Museum.

According to the Evening Herald, Hogan, who is minister for the County Carlow/Kilkenny constituency, was scheduled to make an open-air speech, but when 150 angry protesters arrived he took refuge in  the Cathedral as hecklers shouted abuse outside.

During his speech Hogan attempted to diffuse the situation with levity, saying 'it's great to see so many people can't get in.'

Hogan ran another gauntlet of abuse as he was being driven away from his official engagement.

One protester told the Herald: 'We came up here from Wexford. We will go anywhere. I'm not paying, I'll go to jail for this.'

Earlier the minister said that he respected people's right to protest but people should also respect that in a democratic society 'I have a right to speak as well.'

'We are in a deep difficult situation as a country. We don't shout about it, we do something about it.'

Hogan added that he understood 'better than anybody' that ordinary people were under pressure but pointed out that the Government was 'asking people to make a modest contribution' now so that taxes would not have to be increased in future budgets.

Hogan's sentiments did little to allay the public anger, however. One local man was reportedly escorted out of the cathedral by police when be began to loudly heckle the minister's speech.

According to the Herald the Irish Local Government Management Agency estimates that about 890,200 people have registered for the household charge. This includes an estimated 241,400 registration forms still to be counted and properties that have registered for waivers from the new tax.

Irish Environment Minister Phil HoganGoogle Images