Varadkar tells ‘oddballs’ not to target politicians’ families and staff

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned “oddballs” who shut down the Department of Health after sending white powder to Simon Harris not to “come after” the staff and families of politicians by putting their safety at risk.

Mr Varadkar warned rogue protesters to back off in their attacks after the incident yesterday, saying: “If you want to come after us, come after us, but don’t come after our staff and our families.”

Just before 12 midday yesterday, workers at the Department of Health’s offices on Baggot St, central Dublin, were forced to evacuate the building after an envelope addressed to Mr Harris was found to contain suspicious white powder.

The package — which did not include any note — was later confirmed to contain baking powder.

However, the security scare shut the department down for three hours, with at least eight fire brigade vehicles, hazardous material team units, and the army bomb squad rushed to the scene, as well as gardaí erecting a 100m cordon around the site.

The incident was the second time in a month Mr Harris has been targeted by unknown rogue protesters, following an unrelated protest outside his Co Wicklow home last month.

Asked about the incident yesterday, Mr Varadkar said it is deeply worrying that politicians’ staff and families are being increasingly put at risk due to rogue protests.

“My particular concerns would be for the staff in the Department of Health who opened the mail.

“I am not sure what sort of oddballs send suspicious packages in the post, but they should be well aware that it’s not the politician that’s going to be opening the mail.

“It’s somebody doing a normal job, it could be a receptionist, it could be a security guard, it could be a clerical officer or somebody working on a constituency team.

“If you want to come after us, come after us, but don’t come after our staff and our families.”

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