Phil Hogan received a warm ‘welcome’ to Westmeath last Thursday when he attended the opening of a sewage facility close to the pretty village of Glasson.
The new sewage works, being opened almost three years over deadline, consists of a small gravel yard with three large metal boxes in the centre, surrounded by 12 foot stone walls, railings and security fences.
A gathering of about 100 household tax protesters on the road outside came from Athlone, Mullingar and Moate and were supplemented by a delegation of turf cutters who had travelled from Listowel in North Kerry to make their views clear to Minister Hogan. The protest groups easily outnumbered the dozen or so ‘suits’ – solely councillors and council employees – permit into the sewage compound to meet the Minister.
Interestingly up to a dozen Gardai were present to police a peaceful protest. In addition two Special Branch men left a car and walked down the middle of the road, making sure they were seen.
The chanting of the protesters ensured that Big Phil could not give a speech as he unveiled the foundation stone. After a few arrogant smirks and condescending waves at the crowd he was off into Glasson, to address Fine Gael Councillors in one of the expensive restaurants on the village. Most of the protesters followed and the chants began again at a picket outside. Phil stuck it out for about twenty minutes, the last we saw being his state car disappearing off for the motorway back to Dublin.