The display of mock gallows at a far-right protest outside the Dáil is being investigated as a potential criminal offence under various pieces of legislation, including those that forbid incitement to hatred, public order offences and threatening and intimidating behaviour.
Hanging from a noose on the wooden structure was a stuffed figure with photographs of Minister Roderic O’Gorman and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris pinned to its body. Headshots of other high-profile Irish figures were also displayed on the frame, including of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Ministers Simon Coveney and Norma Foley.
According to The Irish Times, it is understood that Gardaí are confident they know who set up and transported the mock gallows to the Dáil, and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution. 13 arrests have already been made in connection with the protest, and it is reported that authorities are examining CCTV and social media footage to identify other offenders. Two of those detained have already been brought before the court, while the remaining are due at the Dublin District Court on October 18.
The demonstration in question took place on Wednesday, September 20, the day of the Irish government’s return to Leinster House after the summer break. A group of roughly 200 people gathered outside the building, chanting in opposition to migration, trans rights, hate speech laws, sex education and more.
Although the Dáil’s main entrance was fenced off by Gardaí, those entering and exiting the premises were approached and confronted by protestors and called “traitors” by the crowd. TDs leaving the Oireachtas in the evening had to be escorted out in their cars by authorities, who had earlier warned them to remain in the complex for safety reasons. The nearby National Library of Ireland was also forced to shut as a result.
Precisely this – it isn’t ok for them to threaten librarians or nurses either! https://t.co/d3XYDsfIEl
— Paul Murphy ?️⚧️ (@paulmurphy_TD) September 20, 2023
Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae was one of the targeted politicians, with his 21-year-old intern Abby Caballero also getting caught up in the altercation. The Californian student described getting her phone stolen by someone in the crowd, as well as witnessing bottles being thrown at Healy-Rae.
“It became serious really quick. It was crazy,” Caballero recalled.
“Once he started getting things thrown at him and pushed around, the guards were really fast to come and help him. But they did not know who I was.
“I was just getting caught up in all of it and getting shoved around. I was not the target. They saw him and were going for him.
“At one point I got my phone taken by one of the crowd. The phone was in the pocket of my pants and it was taken,” she continued.
“It definitely crossed my mind that they might yell at me and push me. Luckily that didn’t happen. I just kind of got caught up in everything.
“I didn’t feel targeted but there were definitely moments where I was feeling a little uneasy,” Caballero concluded.
Various politicians have condemned Wednesday’s protest, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin describing the conduct as “fascist-like behaviour”, adding to his previous comments calling it “unacceptable and irreprehensible”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that politicians are facing increased risk, with threats being made by “people who have histories of violence and have convictions.” He added that he knows “something about” some of those protesting outside Leinster House, explaining that they had been outside his own home in the past.
The NXF joins in the widespread condemnation of yesterday’s shameful thuggery by far-right agitators at our national parliament.
Librarians and other workers have been subjected to similar abuse by these agitators which is also utterly unacceptable.
A wake-up call if needed. https://t.co/FtcF7jLNew
— NXF (@nxfie) September 21, 2023
In order to prevent a repeat of the demonstration, the possibility of introducing “safe zones” around the Dáil is being explored.
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