The justice minister has said that protests outside the homes of politicians and public figures are “crossing a line”, adding that she herself has felt unsafe at times.
Speaking to the media at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Helen McEntee said that her department is currently carrying out a review of the safety of officeholders, following recent incidents including a protest outside the home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
There have also been recent protests at the homes of Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and RTÉ broadcaster Joe Duffy.
She said: “We will obviously await the response to that review.”
Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne is bringing the Protection of Private Residences against Targeted Picketing Bill before the Oireachtas.
Ms McEntee said she has not yet seen the detail in the bill, but added: “Obviously we will consider anything that is put forward.”
In relation to recent incidents, she said: “I think, particularly for office-holders, but it is the same whether it is Tony Holohan or others, there are constituency offices, there are offices that people can go to, there are always spaces that people can protest.
“When it moves to a person’s home, personally I think that is crossing a line.”
I think everybody, and particularly their family — people who are not involved perhaps in politics who aren’t involved in the day-to-day work — they should not be subjected to this type of abuse, that is my own personal opinion.”
When asked if she had felt safe, she said: “Do I feel safe? The vast majority of the time, yes.
“Have I felt certain situations where I haven’t been? Yes. But I think we need to be measured in our response.
“This is about safe spaces for people in general, and obviously that is something I am very willing to look at.
“Without pre-empting the results of the review or the recommendation, if that is something that is recommended, then absolutely I will take that on board.
We have heard from many of my colleagues in recent weeks and months, particularly after the very tragic incident in the UK [in which MP David Amess was killed], where people have said they don’t feel safe, so all of that has to be taken on board.
“If it is a recommendation as a whole, then government will have to consider it, but that is pre-empting maybe what may or may not come out of the rev