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Protesters in 'sinister' plot to 'evict' female ministers from homes

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Leinster House

Leinster House

Leinster House

A threat to forcefully remove female ministers and their families from their homes sparked a Garda alert in recent days, Independent.ie has learned.

Anti-eviction protesters were investigated on foot of intelligence suggesting they planned to occupy the homes of senior politicians.

Gardaí became aware of the threat last Thursday and spent three days investigating before deciding the danger had subsided.

While the initial message was targeted at all of the five female members of Cabinet, gardaí are understood to have given specific advice to two ministers. A decision has been taken not to name the ministers directly affected. 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was aware of the situation and officers were told to provide extra patrols in the vicinity of ministers’ homes.

It is understood the alert began after a minister received a ‘tip-off’ last Thursday. Gardaí took immediate action, including a trawl of online commentary by anti-eviction protesters.

One source said concerns were heightened by the scenes that have accompanied some high-profile evictions in recent months. Gardaí are also closely monitoring the efforts of some right-wing elements to establish a 'Yellow Vest' campaign in Ireland.

A variety of sources confirmed the plot involved a group of people arriving at a minister's house and attempting to 'evict' them.

The attack would be carried out "in a very public way", indicating that it would be filmed and posted on social media. The protesters would then occupy the property.

The ministers affected were said to be "rattled" by the development.

Security sources said last night the threat has passed and is no longer considered credible by gardaí. No arrests were made.

All senior ministers were routinely assigned Garda drivers until the privilege was ended in 2011 as part of the recessionary cutbacks.

Now the only members of Government with Garda protection are Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The Department of Justice has declined to comment or say whether any extra security measures will be put in place for ministers.

"Arrangements may be put in place for the protection of office holders or other public figures and these are a matter for An Garda Síochána.

"For sound reasons of security and the safety of persons, it is not the practice to comment on the details of any individual case or the arrangements that may be in place in this regard," a spokesperson said. Likewise, gardaí were not in a position to comment on the security alert.

It is common for groups protesting about issues, including housing, to stage events outside TDs' constituency offices but their family homes are seen by most as off-limits.

There are rare examples of homes being targeted, most notably when former aviation workers targeted Paschal Donohoe during his time in the Department of Transport.

However, the fact the threat related specifically to female politicians has been described as "particularly sinister" by security sources.

Regina Doherty, Heather Humphreys, Josepha Madigan, Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Katherine Zappone are the Cabinet's five female ministers.

Online Editors