Gardaí considering using barriers 1.6km from Leinster House

Gardaí considering using barriers 1.6km from Leinster House

Kenneth Fox

Barriers blocking people 1.6km away from Leinster House may be considered for future protests as politicians fear the return of “aggressive” demonstrators for next month’s budget.

As the Irish Examiner report, senior gardaí met with security staff at the Oireachtas following “disgraceful” scenes outside of the Dáil on Wednesday.

It is understood gardaí told those who attended the meeting that there is scope under public order legislation which empowers gardaí to place barriers on roads up to 1.6km — a mile — from where a particular event involving a large number of people is taking place.


The possibility of a safe zone around the Leinster House complex was also discussed, but it is not anticipated that that would be put in place.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the threat level against politicians has risen in recent times and that what happened outside Leinster House on Wednesday was wrong.

Mr Varadkar told RTÉ that the briefing from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris “is that threats are being made against politicians and public figures by people who have histories of violence and have convictions.

“So that’s where it becomes more serious.”


Tánaiste Micheál Martin said some of the actions outside Leinster House “approximates to fascist-like behaviour” and said the personal abuse sustained by politicians and staff was “absolutely vile”.

Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe suggested that further security steps may have to be taken to protect staff and politicians at the Oireachtas, at constituency offices, and at their homes.

Mr Donohoe said while Ireland is a “long way away” from scenes similar to those at the Capitol riots in the US, he cautioned that the State cannot be “complacent” when it comes to future security threats.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the protests outside Leinster House were a shocking example of “the madness” witnessed outside libraries in recent weeks.

A review of security arrangements is underway with yesterday’s meeting with gardaí the first of many. Ms McEntee spoke about the matter with Mr Harris.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who attended the meeting with gardaí yesterday, said he commended officers for their work but also “wanted to get the message across that we can’t have something of that nature happening in the immediate environment of Leinster House again”.