Harney is pelted with eggs and cheese by protesters at hospital
JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern insisted last night that security for ministers -- including garda drivers -- would not be changed after Mary Harney had been pelted with eggs and cheese.
The missiles were thrown at her car by protesters as she arrived to open an endoscopy unit at Nenagh General Hospital in Co Tipperary yesterday.
The protesters, who claimed that the Health Minister had overseen a downgrading of services at the hospital, shouted "Bloody Mary" as the minister got out of her car.
The latest incident comes after Louise Minihan, a Dublin city councillor for the hard-left republican group Eirigi, threw red paint over Ms Harney in Ballyfermot earlier this month.
Asked if ministerial cars should be kept for security reasons, Mr Ahern said: "The gardai are our security detail. We don't propose to change that.
"I think the public are fair, they understand that ministers have to do their job. There are some people who do things like that and I don't think the vast majority of the Irish people support that kind of thing."
Mr Ahern's comments came after senior gardai warned that they were not in favour of withdrawing ministerial drivers.
The ministerial fleet cost €11m over the past two years but senior members of the force believe having armed gardai, who double as bodyguards, driving the cars is appropriate at a time of growing public anger.
Ms Harney later quipped that she was a "cheese fan".
She said: "I would say to those outside the gates to come and talk to the people inside, who are working here, providing high-quality services."
Ms Harney said she didn't get upset by the protest and "had other things thrown at me that were probably worse."