Tuesday 24 April 2018

Father's rights group claims responsibility for protest at Taoiseach's home

Fionnan Sheahan and Kathryn Hayes

A LOW profile father's rights group says it was responsible for the picket at Taoiseach Enda Kenny's home, where some of the protesters were wearing masks.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the protest on Sunday night was a “bridge too far”.

Mr Noonan said people have a right to express their views but insisted the private home of the Taoiseach or ministers should not be targeted.

“It's a pity that the Taoiseach's home was targeted,” he said.

“I think people should be free to express their views and if the expression of their views requires public protest well that's part of democracy as well.

“But they shouldn't have the protests outside the private homes of the Taoiseach or ministers and certainly that's a bridge to far in my view.”

Mr Noonan was accompanied by a number of gardai when he officially opened a colorectal theatre at the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

“I have had no protests at all and I have been doing things quite openly all around the city and the county,” he said.

The incident at Mr Kenny's home took place on Sunday evening at 7pm when a group of seven protestors, some of whom were masked, picketed outside his Castlebar home.

Initially, locals mistakenly believed the protesters were pro-life campaigners.

Mr Kenny was not at home but his wife Fionnuala and his eldest son Ferdia were present.

A protestor delivered a letter and the door was answered by Ferdia.

The group also took photos and shot a video at the house and dispersed peacefully when gardai arrived at the scene.

The organiser said the group was aware Mr Kenny was not in the house at the time.

The group also protested at an event attended by Mr Kenny in Longford earlier in the day.

Fathers Rights Ireland spokesman Joseph Egan said the protestors were marking Fathers Day and were seeking the highlight the lack of rights for fathers.

He said two of the group were wearing masks to symbolise their cause.

“We handed a letter in to the Taoiseach's door requesting transparency in the family courts - not secrecy,” he said.

Mr Egan defended the decision to protest at the Taoiseach's home, rather than at his offices in Government Buildings and Castlebar.

“There was no negativity. This was a peaceful protest,” he said.

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