Hanafin criticises Cowen protesters

A former cabinet colleague of ex-taoiseach Brian Cowen has heavily criticised a small group who videoed themselves surrounding the former TD before calling him a “scumbag” and a “traitor”, saying the attack is an affront to democracy.

Hanafin criticises Cowen protesters

Mary Hanafin made the comments last night after being shown footage of Mr Cowen being subjected to the abuse on Thursday.

A video obtained by radio station 4FM shows Mr Cowen being followed by a small number of protesters as he walks to his car.

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After noticing balloons and placards tied to the vehicle, the former taoiseach is surrounded by a number of demonstrators who repeatedly ask if he “cares” about what happened and call him a scumbag, traitor, and sell-out.

A clearly upset Mr Cowen does not respond as he slowly removes the items. After being shown the footage, Ms Hanafin — who is one of the few former cabinet colleagues of Mr Cowen still in politics — said Mr Cowen is a “private citizen” and “no individual should have to put up with comments like that”.

“He is a private citizen and if people still believe he has questions to answer he will be at the banking inquiry. I was very critical when it [personalised protests] happened to Joan Burton, doubly so when it happened to president Michael D Higgins. We as politicians have to stand up to this together or else these type of protesters will win and democracy will lose.”

Asked to clarify who she meant, Ms Hanafin — who claimed the protest was not timed to coincide with Fianna Fáil’s ard fheis — added: “People like Paul Murphy say they were elected to break the law. They weren’t. They were elected to oppose it, maybe.”

Meanwhile, at the first night of the Fianna Fáil ard fhéis, the opposition party voted in favour of extending maternity leave to 30 weeks and allowing parents to split it between them if elected. The party has also voted in favour of a new “one person one vote” system for electing a leader. Speaking in favour of the motion, Dara Calleary said it is more democratic than other parties including Sinn Féin, who he said think “they have God” in the role.

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