Wednesday 13 December 2017

Protest at Taoiseach’s home “too much” says Noonan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (right) runs the gauntlet of pro-life protesters in Ballinalee, Co Longford
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (right) runs the gauntlet of pro-life protesters in Ballinalee, Co Longford

Kathryn Hayes

THE Minister for Finance has described a protest outside the home of the Taoiseach as a "bridge too far".

Speaking in Limerick today, Michael Noonan said people have a right to express their views but insisted the private home of the Taoiseach or Ministers should not be targetted.

"It's a pity that the Taoiseach's home was targetted. 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."

The incident at the Taoiseach's home took place last night when  a group of 15 masked protestors picketed outside his Castlebar home.

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

It followed an earlier protest where the Taoiseach was heckled and jeered at by a group of around 200 pro life campaigners at the unveiling of a statue to War of Independence hero General Sean MacEoin in Longford.

Speaking in Limerick today where he unveiled a state of the art colorectal theatre at the Mid Western Regional Hospital, Michael Noonan who was accompanied by a number of gardai, said he has not been targeted by any pro life protestors.

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

When asked about Senator Fidelma Healy Eames' decision not to support the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill, Minister Noonan said that everyone who joined the Fine Gael Party signed a pledge to vote with the party.

"We never gave free votes we have a whipping system in our party. We don't give free votes and everybody when they decided to become a Fine Gael Canddiate signs a pledge that they will vote with the party and thats our system."

Minister Noonan accepted however that it is an issue where people have "very sincere views".

"We will see as the legislation processes through the Dail and the Seanad how many people feel that they won't be able to vote for it. But so far it seems to be very few because the legislation really is underpinning in law what existing medical practice is," he added.

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