ENDA Kenny and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams have clashed over the water charges protest that greeted the Taoiseach at a Fine Gael meeting in Limerick on Monday night.
Mr Kenny arrived at the Greenhills Hotel before up to 200 protestors - who were watched by around 50 uniformed gardai - had a chance to congregate but rejected as “a ridiculous notion” any suggestion he had arrived early to avoid the protests.
“I like to turn up on time,” Mr Kenny said, adding that earlier demonstrations in Clare had been “perfectly legitimate”.
Addressing Mr Adams in the Dail on Tuesday, Mr Kenny attacked the “insulting” behaviour of alleged Sinn Fein supporters at the Limerick protest. The Taoiseach said ordinary female members of Fine Gael had been targeted by Sinn Fein supporters.
But Deputy Adams has asked the Taoiseach to withdraw the claims, insisting his party was not involved in the protest.
Mr Kenny’s allegations were “entirely untrue”, Deputy Adams said.
“Sinn Féin was not involved in the anti-water charges protest in Limerick. Our Limerick council group leader Maurice Quinlivan has made that clear.
“The Taoiseach today (Wednesday), when challenged by me, refused to withdraw his allegation, and repeated this untruth. This is a clear effort to demonise the anti-water charges campaign,” Deputy Adams stated.
Mr Kenny, in refusing to withdraw the remarks, said he had seen for himself the Sinn Fein banners being wielded by persons who used “appalling”, “very abusive” and “filthy” language at women leaving the Fine Gael meeting.
Cllr Cian Prendiville, Anti-Austerity Alliance, who did attend part of the protest, said that while he had seen some individual members of Sinn Fein, there was no official presence or banners.
In a week when protestors were being accused of intimidating Fine Gael members, one AAA activist said his 11-year-old daughter had been “roared at” by a veteran Fine Gael member on his way into the meeting.
Kevin McNamara, Kileely, said his daughter Katie had been chanting “No way, we won’t pay” when the Fine Gael member had gone “nose to nose with her and shouted at her that she had a big mouth”.
Mr McNamara said he had reported the matter to Mayorstone gardai on Tuesday morning.
“If I thought for one minute that I would be putting my daughter in a dangerous situation, I would not bring her to any protests. The only intimidation I saw came from Fine Gael members who were trying to provoke us,” Mr McNamara said.
But former Fine Gael Mayor of Limerick Kevin Kiely had a different version of events.
“I was being escorted to my car by a garda, who was not wearing a uniform, when this protestor came up and banged him on the head a number of times with a poster,” said Mr Kiely.
“The garda then started speaking to the man that assaulted him and he started shouting: ‘I have been assaulted by a garda, I have been assaulted by a garda’. But the garda never touched him or did anything. It was disgraceful behaviour.”
Another water charges protest takes place outside City Hall at 2pm this Saturday.