Sunday 19 August 2018

Gardai policing protest at President school visit subjected to online threats

Ken Foy

Some gardai involved in policing a controversial protest last week in Finglas in which President Michael D Higgins was ambushed have been subjected to sinister threats and abuse on social networking sites since the shocking event.

A number of Irish Water protesters targeted Michael D Higgins with vicious abuse and called him a "midget parasite" at Colaiste Eoin in Finglas, west Dublin.

A highly respected detective Finglas-based garda has been at the centre of a week of vile online abuse and sources say that this is something that is of deep concern to his colleagues.

Sources have separately told the Herald that officers believe that at least five people involved in the scenes had committed arrestable public order offences but there had been concern among senior garda management that arrests would have "inflamed" the situation and no arrests were made.

"The 'kid gloves' approach to these so-called protesters meant that none were arrested at Colaiste Eoin and now some of these thugs are taking to the internet to threaten gardai," said a source.

There has been widespread criticism of some of the protesters' actions.

Garda chiefs have now ordered a major review of Mr Higgins's security arrangements for future public engagements.

Separately it has been revealed that a student at the Dublin school was sent home on the morning of the protest after making offensive comments about the President.

The 14-year-old male student, who subsequently took part in the protests, had posted the remarks on Facebook the night before Mr Higgins visited the west Dublin school.

The school was alerted to the posts at which point management asked that they be removed as they were in breach of the code of conduct.

The student subsequently removed the comments but repeated the offensive remarks at a meeting with his parents and the school's principal last Friday morning, shortly before the President arrived at the school.


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