Three men arrested over protests outside Taoiseach’s Co Wicklow home released without charge

Special Detective Unit involved in early morning operation resulting in arrest of suspects for alleged harassment of Simon Harris

Three men have been arrested over allegations they harassed Taoiseach Simon Harris by protesting outside his family home. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Three men were arrested on Thursday over allegations they harassed Taoiseach Simon Harris by protesting outside his family home in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

The arrests, which occurred on Thursday morning, are believed to be the first targeting those suspected of recent protests outside the homes of politicians.

While such gatherings are not illegal, those involved could breach the criminal law by repeatedly turning up, or by acting in a manner outside the range of normal protest actions.

The operation on Thursday was also significant in that it involved members of An Garda Síochána’s Special Detective Unit, which investigates terrorism and threats to the State.


The three suspects arrested were all men detained at different addresses.

Garda Headquarters issued a brief statement confirming the early morning operation.

“Gardaí in the Wexford-Wicklow Division, supported by the Special Detective Unit, have arrested three males, for alleged offences contrary to Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act, this morning as part of ongoing investigations into the alleged harassment of an elected official,” it said.

“The males, two of whom are aged in their 40s and one in his 30s, are currently detained at Garda Stations in County Wicklow under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time.”

The statement made no mention of Mr Harris or the specific reason the three men had been arrested. However, The Irish Times has confirmed the arrests relate the alleged harassment of Mr Harris and that the events under investigation are the protests at his home.

Last month a number of people staged a protest outside the Harris family home when the Taoiseach was not present but his wife was at home and preparing the couple’s young children for bed.

On that occasion Mr Harris was strongly critical of those who gathered outside his house – under the guise of an anti-migration action – saying people’s homes should be “out of bounds” to protesters. However, he also said at the time the Garda had assured him they had all the powers they needed to tackle protesters.

Last Friday night another protest, which was a smaller event, took place briefly outside the Harris family home. About six people gathered, most of them masked.

They dispersed after making remarks objecting to a centre in Ballyogan, South Dublin, for people seeking asylum and other comments relating to the Covid-19 vaccine.

On Thursday afternoon in a further statement the Garda said the three men arrested earlier had been released without charge.

Garda sources said as a file would now be sent to the DPP, whose office would decide if charges should be pursued.

The sources said if the DPP decided the presence of masked people outside private dwellings, for the purposes of a protest action, represented harassment in breach of the criminal law it would greatly strengthen the hand of gardaí going forward.

However, if the DPP’s office determined the nature of the protests outside Mr Harris’s home, which were non-violent, didn’t breach the law the policing of those events would remain challenging unless specific crimes were committed by those present.

The Irish Times understands gardaí will construct a case which will include the various components of the protesters’ actions, including being masked and arriving in a group and doing so more than once. It is understood gardaí also believe the impact of such actions on a politicians’ family, and neighbours, could be taken into account by the DPP.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times