Irish Labor Party leader and Tanaiste (Deputy Leader) Joan Burton was trapped in her government car in a working class suburb of Dublin on Saturday as water charges protests turned ugly.
Burton was in the Jobstown Area to attend a graduation event but her car was surrounded by protesters when she tried to leave.
The scene turn ugly as police clashed with protesters chanting “No Way We Won’t Pay” and other less polite slogans.
Police eventually were able to remove Burton from the car and bring her to an unmarked police car where she was eventually driven away.
The protest was organized by People Before Profit, the left wing group which strongly opposes paying any water charges.
Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy, claimed to the Irish Times the protests were peaceful.
“The protest has been peaceful. Yes she has been delayed here for a number of hours but I think this protest has sent a very clear message to her, a message which the Tánaiste has ignored to date, that that people don’t want to pay these water charges.
“There is national anger over the changes but particularly in Tallaght and Jobstown in west Dublin...there are a lot of people who simply can’t afford to pay,” he said, adding the protesters were also sending a message to Irish Water that the people of Tallaght would not accept water charges.
Independent Senator Katherine Zappone, a co-founder of An Cosán College where the minister was visiting described the “menacing nature” of the demonstrators as “unacceptable”.
“The actions of some of the protesters generated an air of intimidation and menace which turned what should have been a local community celebration into a major security operation, with the Garda Public Order Unit on the ground and a helicopter overhead,” she said.
“The blockading and banging of posters on the Tánaiste’s car, the jostling and spitting at those involved in the event goes beyond any legitimate form of protest.”
Minister for Communications Alex White told RTÉ that it was “anti-democratic” to block somebody in such a way. A spokesman for Burton said she had gone there to take part in graduation ceremonies.
“Nothing should be allowed detract or deflect from what was a very important day for those students,” he said.
The incident comes on the heels of the launch of the governments commemoration plans for the 1916 Easter Rising, which was disrupted by crowds of angry protesters. The Tanaiste's car was also briefly blocked by protesters that night as she tried to leave the Dublin city center.