Riot police attack students after they occupy Department of Finance in Dublin

Students in Merrion row stand off riot policeRiot police attacked students in Dublin today (Weds Nov 3rd) with dogs, armoured vehicles and horses after the students protesting against government cuts occupied the Department of Finance and threw eggs at the Dail.

Upwards of thirty students occupied the Department of Finance in the center of Dublin with a couple of hundred supporting them in the streets outside.

Another larger group of students was reported outside the Dail throwing cans & bottles at it. Several students were injured in the suppression of the protest.

Tens of thousands of students were demonstrating as part of the USI protests against plans to introduce fees. The students carrying out the occupation appear to have broken away from the main demonstration which took place around the corner in Merrion Square. Student members of the WSM, eirigi and the SWP were at the scene. The WSM members published the reports below.

Early reports indicated that eggs were thrown at the Department of Finance and that around 30 students occupied the lobby.  Soon after this four Garda horses arrived on the scene to be joined by armored vehicles and riot police. The 30 students in the lobby were then violently evicted with one WSM member reporting that Gardai were punching people in the mouth as soon as they gained entry.  When the students supporting outside staged a sit in, Gardai proceeded to beat them with batons - see the footage below captured on mobile phones. 

Riot police on Stephen's Green from indymedia.ie

Lorcan Myles,  a Free Education for Everyone activist told us that "One female student was knocked unconscious during the assault on the crowd, and other students clearly displayed head injuries. The Gardaí rushed the crowd on numerous occasions, including spectators on the street. The crowd, which at this point had swelled up to 2,000 students with many from the main demonstration joining us, vented their anger at the response of the Gardaí who had begun encircling them.”

Earlier in the day thousands of students had marched from Parnell Square to Merrion Square, where they were to addressed by student leaders, among them Union of Students in Ireland President Gary Redmond.

Shockingly USI President Gary Redmond speaking after the Gardai attack on the protest condemned not  the police violence but the student occupation, with a statement that said "USI is saddened by the actions of a small minority of people who staged a sit-in protest at the Dept of Finance, shortly after the USI protest march today. This anti-social behaviour was completely separate from USI’s demo."  The statement did not say what, if any, mandate he had to issue condemnations of USI members and will be likely to raise a considerable outcry at USI congress this year.  It reflects a long pattern of conservative USI leaders being elected in quiet periods who get left behind as student militancy sweeps past them.

It was subsequently revealed that Gary Redmond was a member of the Fianna Fail ruling party and has appeared in a Fianna Fail promotional photoshoot (third in on the right). In an open letter calling for his resignation Maynooth student Caoimhe Kerins said "I will take an educated guess that you have never been on a protest where the Gardai have assaulted the crowd before. Let me tell you that in the last 10 years I have been on roughly 15 of such protests and never once have I seen a protestor start the violence. I have seen Gardai beat and assault people from the ages of 13 to those in their late 70s, all on which were peaceful protests before Gardai arrived in numbers."

The time line below are live reports from WSM members at the scene

A WSM reporter at the scene said that "The numbers outside the Department are still growing as people come up from the others at the Dail. There are now maybe four hundred on Baggot Row. The Dail was egged and bottled by a breakaway march of about a thousand, many of whom are here now. The Department is also being egged."  Inside the Dail, Ciaran Cannon reported on Twitter that empty bottles, cans, several eggs and a sliced pan had been thrown.

Further updates came in from our three reports on the spot as follows
"Some of the crowd outside are now trying to push through the doors to get into the Department, a line of Gardai are trying to push them back" (14.35)

"Riot vans are being brought up, students are now throwing eggs at these" (15.05)

Horses used against protest in Dublin"Line of horse cops trying to clear the streets, totally surrounded by sitting students now. Well over five hundred on the street, can't see more. Line of cops in front of the building too" (15.12)

"Riot cops have now formed a line, there is a sit down protest in progress in front of them. The students occupying the building have been got out, kicking. " (15.15) - this cut off with the word people, see below

"At least three students have been injured.  Cops are hitting people on the head with batons" (15:24)

"Seems gardai are gaining upper hand, crowd dispersing, someone put up a free beer poster"(Johnny Fallon at 15.26 on Twitter)

"They batoned lines of people, dragged away a lot of people but at least some were just thrown outside the cordon rather than arrested. Now they're forcing people away with a line of riot police. At least one person was injured in the eviction. Sorry for the last text, was getting smacked" (15.28)

"Riot cops, horses and a dog have forced everyone back down towards Stephen's Green. Still at least a hundred people facing off with the line of police on Stephen's Green, they are being run back. We have just been charged by horses" (15.40)

"About three hundred folk outside the Dáil, just leaving now. Things seem to be quieting down now. Reports of some arrests, unsure on that point" (16.00)

Reports on offical state media (RTE) published an hour after these clashes were first reported here on wsm.ie reported the deployment of mounted Gardai and armoured vehicles and that "Violent scenes are continuing between a large number of riot police, Gardaí and students. Some students have bloody noses and one student has been carried away, possibly unconscious." but went on to claim that "Some students have expressed deep upset at the outbreak of violence."

In advance of the protest Free Education for Everyone (FEE) had issued a call to meet up to form a Socialist bloc at The Ambassador Theatre.  FEE  said defeating the cuts "will only happen if students like you get involved." and describes itself as "an active campaign against fees and youth unemployment that strives to organise second and third level students right across the country. It is currently organised in UCD, Trinity, Maynooth, NUIG, UCC and UL. FEE has organised a series of protests, blockades and occupations against fees.  FEE members are actively involved in their Students’ Unions as well as building FEE. We are aiming to build a mass movement that can defeat fees and education cuts. "

That morning the Taoiseach had refused to say in the Dáil if third-level fees would be introduced or capitation fees increased in the Budget. Brian Cowen said it was imperative that all areas would be considered for reductions and no area could be ring-fenced or immune to cuts.

The last major student march was in 2008 when 15,000 people demonstrated and this led to the promise not to reintroduce fees. USI are saying 25,000 have marched today while Gardai claim there are 12 to 15 thousand on the streets.

Words: Andrew,  using reports texted from the scene by Odhran, Sam & Johnny


Ten minutes of video from the start of the breakaway to the occupation


Five minutes from Trade Union TV


Video showing prolonged Garda assault on protesters sitting on the road

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Video of protester with head wound as a result of Garda baton attack


Misleadingly titled video that actually shows police throwing protesters onto the ground - leave a comment letting FM 104 what you think of their spin - a WSM member trying to calm the cops down is pushed in the throat by one of them at 14 seconds


Video shot from inside Dail as protest was outside

  


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