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Independent councillor Tania Doyle. Tania Doyle
Anti-immigrant politics

'We feared for our lives': Fingal councillor Tania Doyle attacked while putting up posters

Doyle and her husband were about to pack up their ladders and head home when they were approached by two men.

IN THE EARLY hours of Wednesday morning, independent Fingal councillor Tania Doyle and her husband were finishing up after a night spent putting up posters for her campaign ahead of local elections when they were accosted and then attacked by a man who approached them asking about her position on immigration.

Doyle told The Journal about the incident in which she said they both feared for their lives and how it has left her questioning whether or not to stay in politics. 

“It’s a very strange feeling for the family at the moment. It’s like you’re up above, looking down and saying, oh my God what the hell is after happening here? We’re very upset,” she said.

It was the first time she has experienced violence like this since she was elected as a councillor in 2019. She said she did not recognise the man who assaulted her and that her family, friends and the local community has since rallied around her. 

“I’ve never encountered such anger, such aggression in all my life. It’s hard to take it in to be honest. I’ve never been in a situation like that, absolutely never.”

Doyle and her husband were about to pack up their ladders and head home when they were approached by two men, one of whom began asking her questions about immigration policy. Doyle described him as “very agitated”.

“It was about 1:15 or 1:20 in the morning. We were packing up and ready to go,” she said.

“He was demanding my views on immigration. I won’t repeat other stuff that he said. He professed to be an Irish Catholic and said that we’re a Catholic country, and funnily enough he attacked a Catholic woman. The irony of it.”

The attacker told her he didn’t want Ireland to be a Muslim country and didn’t want other religions in Ireland, Doyle said. “It just went on and on.”

The man tried to film Doyle and her husband. Doyle said she politely asked him not to and said he didn’t have her permission. 

He persisted and said Doyle hadn’t answered his question about immigration. 

“I did answer his question,” she said. “He just didn’t like my answer.”

Doyle describes her position on immigration as “quite middle of the road”.

“I believe in lawful, measured and appropriate immigration, with the background infrastructure to cope,” she explained. 

This did not please the man accosting her though and he accused Doyle of being “part of the establishment” and threatened to “destroy” her and post the video on social media.

Doyle says she tried to explain to the man that she does not have power over immigration laws. 

“Some of these guys just don’t understand. I told him, I don’t write legislation. I’m not a legislator, I’m in local politics.”

All of this happened while another man accompanying the aggressor stood by silently. 

“So he stood there and looked on and my husband was kind of watching him. We were in a situation where there was nobody around. It was in darkness. We were tired, we were exhausted.”

As soon as the man had begun talking to her Doyle said she got a feeling that “this is not going to go right”.

“I got that feeling straightaway, you know, once he started talking about immigration and saying our country this and our country that.”

After Doyle answered his question about immigration she said the man became more aggressive and moved towards her, screaming. Her husband attempted to stand between them and that’s when the man began throwing punches at him.

“All hell broke out at that stage,” said Doyle.

Fearing for her husband’s life as the struggle moved towards the ground, Doyle said she threw herself between them and received a punch to the head while doing so.

“I shielded by husband, I literally shielded him because he has health conditions and he’s epileptic and gets seizures,” she said.  

The assault went on for about 15 minutes as the man kept coming at her husband.

Eventually, the other man intervened and managed to restrain the attacker after he started kicking Doyle’s husband on the ground.

“We feared for our lives,” said Doyle. “I said ‘We’re not gonna come out of this’. It’s frightening, absolutely frightening.” 

Her husband’s glasses were smashed into his face and photographs show a gash on his forehead. Photos also show heavy bruising and abrasions on his arms and legs.

The couple ran away and hid around the corner at a nearby petrol station. 

Incidents involving members of the public accosting politicians on the street have become more common recently, with protesters also showing up outside politicians’ homes. 

The trend has caused concern among people in politics that these incidents might deter prospective candidates from running for election. 

Doyle says she doesn’t know if she will stay in politics after the attack and has been questioning her decision to run, although she says there is still “a lot more work to do”. 

She also says that more young people, and women in particular, are needed in politics. She says being a politician is “a tough job” but that she never wants to go through anything like the attack again. 

“And I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through something like that either,” she said. 

“I think I’m a strong, independent woman. I’ve worked very, very hard to get where I am. But when it affects your family, like my husband’s glasses were smashed into his face. He’s black and blue from head to toe. He’s a big gash, he’d blood all over his face. You say to yourself, is it worth it?”

Doyle has been staying at home most of the time since the attack on  Wednesday, only venturing out once to campaign for a few hours yesterday at the insistence of her friends.

“I did go out but I was uncomfortable, not uncomfortable with the community I represent, I was just uncomfortable with the situation.” 

Her daughter, who has been “amazing”, has taken over running the campaign and Doyle says she is looking forward to it all being over.

Whether or not she will stay in politics is a decision for another day. For now, it’s all about recovering and getting through the next three weeks of the campaign. 

“I’m going to take it easy and I’m going to mind myself a little bit rather than spending 12 hours a day canvassing.” 

Doyle also wished to thank the the Gardaí and the members of Fingal County Council for their support following the assault.

A Garda spokesperson told The Journal that gardaí in Blanchardstown are investigating “an alleged assault on a male and female, that occurred on Hartstown Road area of Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 in the early morning of Wednesday”. 

Investigations are ongoing, the spokesperson said.

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