'It's shocking, it's vile, and it's wrong:' Taoiseach condemns protest at home of Leo Varadkar

Speaking in New York, Micheál Martin condemns far-right and anti-vaccine protest outside the home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar
'It's shocking, it's vile, and it's wrong:' Taoiseach condemns protest at home of Leo Varadkar

The home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was targeted by protestors at the weekend. File picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Taoiseach has condemned a protest outside Tánaiste Leo Varadkar's home, describing it as a 'dangerous trend'.

A small number of far-right and anti-vaccine protestors took to the street outside the home of Mr Varadkar on Sunday, prompting garda attendance and widespread condemnation.

Protest was 'shocking, vile, and wrong'

Speaking to reporters in New York, Micheál Martin said the protest was wrong and would discourage people from joining the political process in the future: 

It's shocking. It's vile and it's wrong. I think it has no place in a democracy. I think we as a country tolerate political debate, tolerate protest —  people are entitled to protest in the proper way. But I think invading the privacy of an individual where they live, their home, is wrong. And not just the Tánaiste or Matt [the Tánaiste's partner], but the neighbourhood as well.

"There's no necessity for that kind of aggressive protest in a residential area. To me, it's a dangerous trend — something we don't need in Ireland."

The Taoiseach also said that social media videos of Covid-19 patients being urged to discharge themselves from hospitals was "reprehensible".

It's reprehensible behaviour, it's risky, it's endangering people's health and people's lives. The only people who should advise people to leave the hospital or be discharged are medical personnel.

"We'd have heard anecdotal stories and people have been encouraged to they're having to go back and even more severe.

"Covid is a very serious illness and has damaged quite a lot of people in terms of long Covid. Many people have been very shook by Covid for a considerable time afterwards. It's not your normal flu. You should avoid trying to get it if you can. If you get it you should treat it very seriously. And that is my advice.

"It is outrageous that anyone should, in a very ill-informed way, advise people to leave hospital.

Taoiseach discussed far-right with New York governor

Mr Martin said he had "touched on" the issue of the burgeoning far-right and anti-vaccine movement in his discussions with New York Governor Kathy Hochul

"In America, for example, the anti-vaccine campaign and other agendas have been very strong and led to fewer vaccinations. And politics became part of mask-wearing, vaccination and other debates. 

"In Ireland, we've been fortunate that that hasn't been the case by a significant cohort. In many ways, the very robust public debate that we've had in Ireland and the role the media has played in giving a voice to the articulation of experts and academics has helped us to deal with this.

In Ireland, the vast, vast majority of people don't have any problem with this kind of activity, but we can't be complacent about that. We've got to look at what's happening in other societies, like the United States, to know that won't always be the case.

"I would worry over time that as online becomes more influential, that those kinds of protests would act as a disincentive to get into politics, will make it difficult for people and make it difficult for people.

"I'm a great believer in parliamentary democracy and the ballot box. We should uphold that."

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