Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described conspiracy theories spread by some anti-lockdown protestors as “bonkers”, comparing them to the QAnon movement.
The Sunday Times reported today that some protestors said RTÉ is part of conspiracy theory in which babies are killed and harvested for “adrenochrome” which helps RTÉ celebrities look young.
Mr Varadkar dismissed the theories, saying: “That’s pretty bonkers, isn’t it? And not far off the kind of QAnon stuff that we’ve seen in America and other parts of the world, which bizarrely gained a certain degree of traction.”
QAnon is a movement involving a set of conspiracy theories which claim that former US President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against paedophiles in government, business and the media.
When it comes to combating these conspiracies, the Tánaiste told Newstalk: “I’m reluctant to do anything that would involve infringing free speech but I think there are things that can be done.”
“Certainly, with the online safety commissioner being established, it will be possible to order platforms to take down harmful content that incites harmful content, if they don’t do that already,” he said.
“And anything that incites violence in my view is harmful content.
“And I think there’s a responsibility on some of the social platforms as well to do the exact same.
“But often this stuff as you know isn’t hosted on the major platforms that are household names. There are some fringe ones out there as well that aren’t regulated in Ireland.”
As for his thoughts on yesterday’s events, Mr Varadkar said: “It wasn’t a protest, it was a riot.
“And there’s no excuse for using that kind of violence to advance a political cause, no matter what that cause is. I think we’re just lucky that somebody didn’t get seriously injured or killed.”
The Tánaiste commended the gardaí for their efforts during the protest yesterday afternoon.
“The fact that we saw people being brought to court that very night was a really good example of very swift and very quick policing,” he said.
“But in a pandemic really there shouldn’t be any protests. Gatherings of this nature are not allowed in Level 5 lockdown and while social distance protests are possible, this certainly wasn’t that.”