People Before Profit protest outside the Minister for justice home


The People Before Profit Alliance in Dundalk held a one hour protest outside the Minister for justice and Law Reform’s residence on Friday 15th of October. The alliance, composing members of the Dundalk community, held the protest outside Dermot Ahern’s Blackrock residence from five pm until six pm in an effort to highlight the closure of the accident and emergency services at Louth County hospital, which has been downgraded to a minor injuries clinic.

Local disabilities spokesperson for People Before Profit, Mark Fitzsimons, stated “on the one hand the HSE are moving the most vital services away from the community, and on the other they are telling us in TV adds about strokes that minutes count. The health care reform plans over the last number of years have been trumpeted as moving care into the community and yet when you are having a heart, a stroke or a serious car accident it will take an hour and a half to get to a crowded A&E. A number of our members have relatives who have had this terrible experience”.

The protest was silent and peaceful throughout with twenty five or so people holding placards, some with the minister dressed as a clown with the caption “cuts are not funny”. Others depicted Dermot Ahern behind bars and as the grim reaper.

The peace was disturbed at one point during the silent gathering when a neighbour of the Justice Minister, claiming to be a lapsed member of the labour party, began screaming at the protesters and hurling their placards on the road. Referring to the minister as “her Dermot”, she mouthed abuse at protesters. The Garda on duty escorted the lady from the scene. Not one protester responded in any way.

The Gardai were on the scene when protesters began arriving, but with Gardai assured by the mixed nature and good humour of the group, the Garda car on standby left the scene, with the new village sergeant remaining.

One of the protest organisers, Finbar Markey, highlighted the minister’s role in the economic crash that he says has devastated so many families. “The people of Dundalk must come to realise that he is one of the culprits that crashed our economy and must leave power, there is no informed democracy in Ireland”. Mr Markey, a final year doctoral student and social care worker said, “This government withheld information about the banking and fiscal status of this country during a national election. They filled us with lies and called those who saw what was coming fools and mad men. They control RTE and the news that people get to see. They refuse to hold three by elections, we are not a democracy, and when democracy is taken away all the people have left is protest. But Mr Ahern is like a bat in the night sky, seen for only a flicker and then gone. He refuses to engage in public debate, what options do we have but to bring it to his gate. We mean no harm to neighbours and Mr Ahern’s Family, as they have seen tonight.”

Jim Fergus, a regular attendee at People Before Profit Alliance meetings which are held regularly in the Redeemer family resource centre, came along as he is angered by the way the health services have been “destroyed” in the last number of years. “Mr Ahern is the most senior politician in Dundalk, why did he abandon the people that voted for him? He said before the last election the hospital would not be closed on his watch. He has brought worry and pain into our homes in so many ways, well we are here to let him know that we won’t take it any more”.

The protest, announced on the Alliances Facebook page “peoplebeforeprofitdundalk”, was advertised as a small, respectful gathering, and some attending had never heard of the group before but came along to give their support.

The minister responded to the protest by accusing the members of the public involved of being worse than “the Provo’s”. Mr Ahern said that he was frightened for the safety of his family and that he had contacted the Gardai as he was away on the night in question. He also stated that his daughter was blocked from entering their residence.

Mark Fitzsimons, disability spokesperson for People Before Profit in Dundalk, told Dundalk Exposed that the ministers claims that he was afraid for his daughters safety and that he felt the gates of his home would be stormed was ridiculous. “The gardai were well aware of the protest from early morning and we had kept close contact throughout the day. In fact when the peaceful and silent nature of the protest became apparent to the local Sergeant he directed the squad car to leave the scene, having assessed the situation as non threatening. The minister claims he contacted the Gardai as the protest was underway, does this mean he does not trust the risk assessment procedures of the Gardai? Our protest consisted of myself, and I am blind, some pensioners, parents, social care workers ad students, how threatening can that be? The protest was completely silent and short. Clearly the minister is hiding behind his family, neighbours and friends. That makes a change from dancing around the issues”, Mr Fitzsimons said.

This week in a statement drafted by the members of the People Before Profit public meeting, the group announced their intention to hold another protest soon and have stated it as a weekend one hour event.

Further details can be obtained by checking out the People Before Profit Dundalk Facebook page (peoplebeforeprofitdundalk finnbair tracey mark syd) or emailing Alternatively they may be contacted on 0877648832 / 0876350177

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