Advertisement

We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

The banners erected outside O'Gorman's home
garda reps association

Garda rep says 'no clear guidance' on dealing with incidents like protest at O'Gorman's home

An anti-migration group gathered outside the home of Intergration Minister Roderic O’Gorman on Thursday evening.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Apr

A GARDA REPRESENTATIVE body leader has said there is “no clear guidance” to deal with incidents like the disturbance at Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s home last week. 

An anti-migration group gathered outside the home of O’Gorman on Thursday night which saw banners featuring anti-migration slogans associated with conspiracy theories erected outside the house. 

In footage shared on social media, masked men could be seen appearing to stop a car from turning onto the street.  Slogans referencing a “plantation” also appeared on the banners, a term used by Irish advocates of the white nationalist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory

During an interview with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Brendan O’Connor, President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), was asked why no arrests were made at the incident outside O’Gorman’s home. 

O’Connor said that he cannot comment on an individual case, but added that “there’s no clear guidance of what exact actions [gardaí] should engage in and what legislative provisions they should rely on in those circumstances”.

He was speaking ahead of the three-day GRA annual conference kicking off in Westport, Co Mayo today. 

Following the incident at O’Gorman’s home on Thursday, a directive was issued to rank and file gardaí as to what might be considered a criminal offence at such events, the Sunday World reported. 

The directive reportedly advised officers that instances where agitators erect posters and signs “may constitute a form of harassment and/or threatening and abusive conduct”.

It also reportedly outlined that “wearing of balaclavas in particular, have potentially sinister overtures in Ireland”.

O’Connor told the programme that the directive is “quite vague in its content”. He said gardaí should be brought into classrooms, talked to about legislation and given scenario-based training. 

O’Connor said more aggressive-style of protests and confrontational situations have been “arising on a more regular basis” for Garda members as they “go about their daily police duties across a wide spectrum of issues” such as protesting of politicians and anti-immigration protests.  

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Simon Harris said today that he is “frustrated” that protests outside of the homes of politicians have been going on for so long. 

He told the Today With Claire Byrne programme this morning that he wants clarity on whether existing laws are strong enough to respond to such incidents. 

“It’s been a long time since 2017 when people were outside my home, this has gone on a very long time now and I worry that there’s a worsening of what we’re actually seeing,” the Taoiseach said. 

He said he would be speaking to the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to discuss whether laws need to be updated. 

Political response

In a statement following the incident outside his home, O’Gorman thanked gardaí for their assistance and warned that threats and intimidation towards elected officials could undermine Irish democracy.

“Ireland has a strong democratic tradition, where public representatives are accessible and accountable to the public,” O’Gorman said. 

“We debate and sometimes disagree, but do so in a way that is fundamentally respectful. I know that is valued by people across this country, and it is valued by politicians too.

“Threats and intimidation towards publicly elected representatives and those seeking election will undermine those essential qualities of Irish democracy. If we were to lose those, we would lose something very dear, and not easily recovered.”

Today, speaking to RTÉ Radio One, Taoiseach Simon Harris said he was “concerned” about protests outside the homes of TDs. He added that he is “frustrated” that protests are still taking place years after a demonstration outside his home when he was health minister.

Harris told Today with Claire Byrne: “What I want clarity on this week is a very simple question: Is this a matter of enforcement or a matter of law? In other words, are the laws that we have robust enough and therefore they just need to be enforced, or do we need new law?”

“I’m a little frustrated here, to put it mildly, I’m a little frustrated that this is going on far too long. It’s been a long time since (2019) when people were outside my home.”

He said if new laws are not needed, he wants an assurance on how the existing laws are going to be enforced.

“I’d be equally as disgusted if this happened outside the home of a leader of the opposition,” he said, adding that he intends to give this “a bit of time this week”.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, McEntee said: “Minister O’Gorman’s privacy and property have been violated in a disgusting and shocking manner.

“I’ve spoken to the Garda commissioner. This cannot be tolerated.”

With reporting from Jane Matthews

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.