Thirteen arrests were made following a series of verbal abuse attacks on members of Dáil Eireann entering their place of work earlier this week.
Many politicians, among them Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee (FF) found the verbal vitriol extremely upsetting especially as she had her young daughter with her. On exiting the building, she felt forced to cover her child in a towel lest the protestors threw something at the car and broke glass.
Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail (FF for South Kildare) told RTÉ that last Wednesday’s protests were disgraceful, and clearly a blatant attack on democracy.
Speaking on The Week in Politics, Deputy Ó Fearghaíl (below) said: “Protest is an acceptable and desirable part of the democratic process” but that the protestors “were not there to serve any particular cause because they are incapable of that”.
Reminding that Leinster House has 1,200 staff including admin, civil servants, advisors, media etc along with 220 politicians – all of whom are entitled to enter their place of work without interference or abuse.
The protests were seen as more intimidating and their behaviour unwarranted, over previous peaceful issue-related gatherings.
Following Wednesday’s alarming scenes, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee asked the Garda Commissioner to conduct a security review going forward to ensure Dáil and Seanad workers have a safe passage to work.
Chairs of the parliamentary parties and groupings, representatives of Oireachtas staff and the media will be asked to engage with An Garda Síochána and the Garda Representative Association (GRA). It is hoped that the review will be completed by the end of this month.
The Ceann Comhairle said it should not and cannot be tolerated that Irish democracy should be undermined. All hate racism and attacks on Dáil employees should be prevented at all costs.
“Tolerating it will bring us to where America arrived at Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the last [US Presidential] election,” he said on RTÉ. Deputy O’Fearghail also called on the practicality of having protestors moved back further from the entrance to Dáil Eireann, thereby creating a buffer and allowing employees safe passage to their place of work.
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