Harris claims those picketing his home support dissident republicans

Minister says members of Fingal Battalion Direct Action Group let ‘mask slip’ over weekend

Members of  Saoradh at an Easter commemoration at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast last Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Members of Saoradh at an Easter commemoration at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast last Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has claimed the group of people who picketed outside his home in Co Wicklow last weekend are supporters of dissident republicans.

A small number of protesters from the ‘Fingal Battalion Direct Action Group’ protested outside Mr Harris’s home in Greystones for the second time in recent weeks.

The group has portrayed itself as anti-austerity and anti-eviction but Mr Harris said its comments on his criticism of Saoradh, whose members paraded in paramilitary style through Dublin on Easter Saturday, exposed its true nature.

Saoradh is a political group that is associated with the New IRA, which was behind the killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry.

Mr Harris had said the parade “must be examined and not allowed to happen again”.

One of the group’s online comments read: “Simon slatted [sic] people who commemorated our fallen hero’s [sic] but Simon needs to know he would never be commemorated in this country as he’s one of Ireland’s biggest embarrassments.”

Speaking about the weekend protests, Mr Harris said the group’s “mask slipped and they made it very clear where their sympathies and allegiances lie. “It’s not to our republic and not to democracy,” he told RTE.

He said it was clear they were aligned to a group of people whose views were “quite reprehensible”.

He said gathering outside a politician’s home is not about protest. “It’s an attempt to intimidate people involved in democracy,” he said.

“People can parade up and down our streets dressed in military garb and I don’t believe it has a place in our democracy.”