‘Very difficult’ to legislate against protests at politicians’ homes - Coveney

Protest at Varadkar’s home prompts calls for law against ‘intimidation’ of public figures

A small number of protesters gathered outside the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s home in the south inner city in Dublin for a period on Sunday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

A small number of protesters gathered outside the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s home in the south inner city in Dublin for a period on Sunday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Minister Simon Coveney has said it would be “very difficult” to bring in a law to prevent protests taking place outside the homes of politicians.

A small number of protesters gathered outside the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s home in the south inner city in Dublin for a period on Sunday afternoon.

Gardaí attended the incident in Dublin 8 where it is understood a number of anti-vaccine demonstrators gathered for around an hour.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has suggested that the Government should consider if there is legislation that could be used for incidents like this.

She told the Journal.ie she believes in the right to protest but: “That isn’t a protest, it’s intimidation and I think we need to separate these things”.

Mr Coveney said the private lives of politicians and other public figures should be respected.

“Families and children and partners of politicians and public figures are not fair game for aggressive lobbying.”

He said there must be the right balance between the ensuring that Ireland is a place that welcomes protest when necessary and making sure that a line isn’t crossed in terms of a protest “becoming almost intimidation at a person’s home.”

He added: “Whether it’s possible to legislate in that area, I’m not sure to be honest... protests on the street is a public place.

“If that happens to be close to a person’s home, then I think it’s very difficult to legislate to prevent that.

“But I think what most people would like is some common decency here, that there are, there are places to protest, whether that’s outside politician’s offices or outside the Dáil or in other public places.

“And there are places that I don’t think it’s appropriate to be trying to impact on a person’s private life at their home”.