While Dáil members meet with An Garda Síochána to review policing of protests, the Ceann Comhairle insists “normal demonstrations” will continue.
Senior officers and personnel in Leinster House met with An Garda Síochána this week to discuss policing at the Dáil following a protest on Wednesday that saw 13 arrested for public order incidents.
Dáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl told On the Record with Gavan Reilly Government officials had two requests for Gardaí.
“One, that what happened outside Leinster House this week can never happen again,” he said.
“And two, peaceful normal traditional style demonstrations must be facilitated.
“We don’t want to create some sort of parliament that is removed or some ivory tower that cannot be approached by the Irish public, but neither can we allow staff or members to be intimidated, vilified and threated as they were this week.”
Several elected politicians and Leinster House staff reported being shoved and intimidated by protestors.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl said the solution to preventing protests escalating will be “complex”.
“[The solution must recognise] that what happens traditionally [at protests] has been nonproblematic, all of these events have been handled appropriately by An Garda Síochána,” he said.
“I don’t see any need for any radical change for how those protests are dealt with.
“However, if an unknown group or a malevolent group such as this who have been signalling their intent on social media, then there should be great care taken that they cannot impede access to and from Leinster House.”
The Ceann Comhairle said criticism that politicians ignored far-right protestors in previous months until it was “on their door” is “absolutely fair”.
“We as a society and our state agencies should have been far more diligent when it comes to the people in the libraries and the refugee and asylum seeker centres across the country when they were being intimated as well,” he said.
“We need to wake up as a country and our agencies need to move... to protect people who are going about their normal business and in their work, they're trying to serve society to the best of their ability.”
One suggestion was creating ‘protest-free zones’ around Leinster House to allow politicians and Leinster House staff to access the buildings safely.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl said, however, it’s important to maintain free speech in politics and said protestors such as those on Wednesday “cannot be stopped entirely in their tracks”.
“They're going to gather and amalgamate somewhere, but in doing whatever they're doing... they cannot be allowed to interfere with the normal movement of people going in and out of parliament.”
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