Trudeau to consider Vickers tackling protester if issue raised

Canada PM pressed to respond to incident involving Brian Murphy at Grangegorman

A protester has been arrested after disrupting a military ceremony commemorating the British soldiers who died in the Easter Rising. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

Canadian prime minster Justin Trudeau has said he will consider the issue of ambassador Kevin Vickers tackling a protester at a ceremony in Dublin if it is formally brought to his attention.

In Japan for a G7 summit, Mr Trudeau was pressed to respond to Thursday’s incident at Grangegorman Military Cemetery and whether Mr Vickers should face disciplinary action.

Initially telling the media he was “not fully appraised” of the incident – in which the ambassador tackled protester Brian Murphy at a commemoration for British soldiers who died in the Easter Rising – he then said “if it lands on my table, I’ll take a look at it”.

The swift reaction of Mr Vickers, who is famed for shooting dead a gunman at the Canadian House of Commons in 2014, attracted considerable reaction in the country’s media.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported the government’s code of conduct for diplomatic staff serving abroad.

Under the heading “Canada’s Reputation: Personal behaviour”, it notes: “Regardless of any legal immunity conferred upon representatives abroad, their conduct and actions will be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny and public interest than they would be at home.”

In a comment piece, the CBC’s national affairs editor Chris Hall said Mr Vickers was regarded as a man of “enormous personal integrity” and “of even greater personal courage”.

“But Vickers is no longer a security officer,” he continued. “He is Canada’s representative in Ireland. That role depends not on bravery but discretion. Ambassadors are supposed to stay out of domestic issues in their host country.”

Global Affairs Canada, the foreign service, had issued a short statement in response to the incident saying Mr Vickers was “safe and not injured” following his apprehension of Mr Murphy.

Meanwhile, the protester described his own behaviour as an act of “civil disobedience”.

Mr Murphy from Rathcoole, Co Dublin said he thought he would have 10 to 15 seconds to make his protest before he was arrested and escorted away by gardaí.

He was demonstrating because he “found the event objectionable, unpalatable to be commemorating British soldiers killed in 1916. ”

He also wanted to highlight the case of the “Craigavon Two”, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, jailed in 2012 for the murder of PSNI officer Stephen Carroll who was shot dead in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in 2009.

He had applied for an invitation to the event from the Department of Foreign Affairs but rejected suggestions he claimed a connection he did not have. “I do have a relative buried in the cemetery. He died in 1916 on April 21st, but of natural causes” – three days before the Rising.

His great grandfather Hugh Coleman was a British soldier in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who previously served for a few years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and is buried at Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.

He has been charged with a public order offence under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and is due to appear before the District Court in Blanchardstown on June 21st.