Gardaí spoke to woman who wrote about Regina Doherty, Dáil told

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger claims academic subjected to ‘sinister’ experience at airport

‘Is it now Government policy to attack, in this very sinister way, anybody who criticises anyone in the Government on social media?’ Ruth Coppinger said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘Is it now Government policy to attack, in this very sinister way, anybody who criticises anyone in the Government on social media?’ Ruth Coppinger said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A US-based academic Catherine Kelly had “a sinister and chilling experience’’ at an Irish airport last week, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger claimed in the Dáil.

She said Ms Kelly was stopped at the airport by two plain-clothed gardaí, asked her name, if she used social media and if she had written an article about Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty and her business dealings.

“A complaint had been made and she was cautioned not to tweet the Minister or any material relevant to her again,’’ she added.

Ms Coppinger raised the matter on the Order of Business, when questions are raised about promised legislation, and asked if the incident would be covered by the proposed passenger name record Bill.

Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat “the Cope’’ Gallagher said she was making what seemed like a second stage debate contribution.

Ms Coppinger said: “Obviously, her name was given by an airline to the gardaí. She was told a sign a statement or she would not be allowed proceed to the gate.’’

As Ms Coppinger was heckled from the Fine Gael benches, Solidarity colleague Mick Barry referred to “censorship’’.

Ms Coppinger said there had been a lot of talk about social media this week.

“Is it now Government policy to attack, in this very sinister way, anybody who criticises anyone in the Government on social media?’’ she added.

After some further exchanges, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who was taking the Order of Business, said he understood preparatory work was being done on the Bill referred to by Ms Coppinger.