TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar temporarily left a town hall debate in Cork tonight after protestors interrupted the meeting to call for a minute's silence for deceased homeless people.
The Fine Gael town hall meeting on the directly elected Lord Mayor plebiscite was suspended after being interrupted by members of the Connolly Youth Movement, protesting the government's record on housing and other issues.
As soon as the Taoiseach took to the stage, a member of the group began to stand up and read out a prepared statement, first calling for a minute's silence for two men who died in Cork in recent days. They had both used homelessness services.
MEP Deirdre Clune, who chaired the event, accommodated the minute's silence but then suspended the meeting when more members of the group stood up to continue reading the statement and were shouted down by other attendees.
The Taoiseach, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and several other Ministers left the room as the protesters were escorted from the building by staff and Gardaí.
The meeting was then restarted, with Mr Varadkar addressing the crowd and urging a Yes vote in the plebiscite on the directly elected mayor.
In their statement, the Connolly Youth Movement protesters said that they could not allow an event featuring the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to go ahead without raising issues that Ireland is facing.
"Poverty, suicide, emigration, health service crisis, lack of adequate housing, poverty wages, defunding of public services in urban and rural areas, privatization of infrastructure and water, total ineptitude in approaching impending climate change and much more," they said.
"We call upon all people opposed to the ruthless Blueshirt regime to question them at every opportunity you get and never, ever permit them to walk away from the disastrous, inhumane and barbaric policies they continue to introduce against society," they added.