Cleaning the Icelandic parliament building after last year’s protests on the first day of the autumn term had the same impact on the old building as a hundred years of erosion, according to Asta Ragnheidur Johannesdottir, the President of Althingi (speaker of the house).
She said in her speech that public protests on Austurvollur square on the first day of parliament are all well and good and that people should seize the opportunity to protest that the day provides; but only so long as the protests are not violent and do not cause damage to state or private property.
The protests this Saturday were rather harsh and protesters threw eggs and other missiles at politicians and police. One MP fell to the ground, slightly injured by a flying egg. His colleagues from all parties were shocked. A loud protest with drums, pots and pans was quickly organised to take place yesterday, with organisers calling for a peaceful protest.
Johannesdottir said that protesters should always try to protect people and property; adding that vandalism and violence distract from the point of protesting and are not helpful in showing opposition.
Asta Ragnheidur Johannesdottir made particular mention of Althingi House itself: “It withstands poor treatment very badly, such as egg throwing and the like. This is an old house and cleaning its facade last year had the effect that it was like weathering the building for a whole century. It is built from porous stones, meaning that when egg whites are thrown at it it is very difficult to clean it off.” She said that Althingi House is a valuable physical asset owned by everybody in the country. She believes it deserves to be respected and treated in a respectful manner, Visir.is reported.
The President of Althingi was short but concise with her answer about Saturday’s protests: “I hope they don’t happen again”.