An anti-water charges protester, who shouted abuse at President Michael D Higgins and called him a "parasite”, has been spared a jail sentence.

Derek Byrne, 36, from Streamville Rd, Kilbarrack, Dublin, was fined €300 by Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court.

Byrne, a father of three, was found guilty of engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace may be occasioned.

The abuse was directed at Mr Higgins after he left a school on Cappagh Rd in Finglas on 23 January last year.

The protest was organised through Facebook because Mr Higgins had signed the Water Services Bill into law.

About 40 people turned up outside the school shortly before 10am.

Garda Chief Superintendent John Quirke said many of them had their faces covered with hats and scarves.

He said that when the President's cavalcade arrived protesters tried to block his car and that a "generally nasty atmosphere developed". Supt Quirke said he was punched by someone.

He agreed with defence counsel Proinsias Ó Maolchalain BL that he did not see Byrne shoving or attacking anyone. He said Byrne had a megaphone and was wearing a GMC Sierra jacket.

Garda Sergeant Peter Hayde said Byrne was shouting during the protest and profanities were directed at Sabina Higgins, the President's wife, by protesters. Sgt Hayde said he found the words to be threatening and insulting.

When the entourage was departing, Byrne began running along side the President's car and shouting in the window. Sgt Hayde said that he went down on the ground while tackling another protester. He said Byrne started to abuse him.

Video clips from the protest were later uploaded to YouTube, the court heard. Some clips were played in court and men and woman could be seen confronting gardai.

In the clips, there was also chanting of "traitor", "parasite", "scumbag" and "shame, shame, shame" when the President arrived.

Some were also chanting "no way, we won't pay".

Gardaí were taunted about having their wages cut.

Prosecution solicitor Michael Durkan argued that the situation was a powder keg.

Mr Ó Maolchalain argued that his client apologised in the media for comments he made about Mr Higgins.

He said Byrne was involved in water protest movement and trying to protect communities from the hardship of austerity.

He said some of the comments were clearly tongue in cheek and not made in an aggressive manner and his client was motivated by "public spiritedness". He regrets the comments and a conviction could jeopardise his job, counsel said.

The offence can carry a three-month jail sentence.

Judge Smyth noted Byrne is working as a security guard, is supporting a family and has no prior criminal convictions. He said he was satisfied there was sufficient evidence to convict Byrne and fined him €300.

Co-defendant Anna Clarke, 35, from St Donagh's Road, Donaghmede, Dublin but now living in England, was facing the same charge but was not present for the hearing.

Judge Smyth dismissed her charge on the grounds that the evidence of her identification was not sufficient.