Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Nobody has the right to gather outside someone's home'

Intimidation: Even if we agree Harris is not up to the Health gig, it's not acceptable that a mob gather outside his home. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Intimidation: Even if we agree Harris is not up to the Health gig, it's not acceptable that a mob gather outside his home. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

It's fair to say that this Government is becoming increasingly unpopular with each passing day.

There's almost no need to go through the full charge sheet against them, but it's a pretty long list that seems to grow with each passing day - the hospital overspend, the aggro with the nurses, the homeless crisis, the often strange approach to the increasingly fraught Brexit negotiations.

These are tough times to be in power, particularly if you don't seem to be up to your brief.

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Simon Harris certainly appears to fall into that category. According to many, he's simply too young to be in charge of Health, which is known as 'Angola' for a reason.

The Health portfolio has bested better politicians than Harris, and between the jigs and the reels and the misplaced memos and allegations of misleading cabinet, the only reason he is still in the job is because the Government can't afford to risk a general election.

But even if we all agree that Harris simply isn't up to the gig, does anyone of good conscience think that it's acceptable for a mob to gather outside his house and intimidate him?

Mob rule is no rule. We've seen it in the States where journalists and ­politicians who are favourable towards Trump have been chased out of restaurants and forced to watch as crowds of masked thugs gather outside their driveway.

In the case of Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Antifa activists even tried to kick his door down while his wife ran to hide in a panic room.

Nobody tried to kick Harris's door last Sunday. But give it time and somebody will.

Groups like the 'Anti Eviction Flying Column' and 'Fingal Battalion Direct Action', that organised the protest seem to think that they have a monopoly on both anger and morality.

In truth they have neither.

After all, they have managed to make people feel sorry for Harris, which is quite the spectacular own goal.

We saw the power of the mob during the water protests when roving gangs bounced around the city intimidating both the water inspectors and residents who were prepared to pay (and for the last time on that matter, nobody expects free electricity, it should be the same with water).

But now they're really coming out of the woodwork, and as with so many of these protests, they don't really know what they want, other than saying they want nice things.

So one of the groups which gathered outside Harris's house complained about austerity, demanded medicinal cannabis and more free money for everyone.

But even more interesting was the terminology used in one statement which claimed that the: "Free State administration are waging a war against the Irish people and are facilitating the attacks on working-class families and our homes by Imperialist Vultures."

Free State? Who even uses that phrase anymore, other than those who still cling to old, long-forgotten grievances?

They then turned rather more threatening when they muttered darkly about "bringing it to the doors of... Free State politicians, landlords, bankers, sheriffs and anyone else who lines up against our class".

Well, I'm working class and proud of it, as are most of my friends, and these idiots don't speak for us or any other working stiff who is too busy trying to keep a roof over their head to go out and protest whenever the mood takes them.

Like all mobs, these people speak for themselves and themselves alone, yet they are happy to invoke all of us, whether we like it or not.

Also, like all mobs, they prefer to keep their identities secret, which is why most of the protesters took special care to cover their faces on Sunday. What are they afraid of? Surely if they really were the proud defenders of the working class, then they'd be keen to let everyone know who they were?

This country is currently going through a period of chaos and flux like we haven't seen for a decade, and with Brexit coming down the pipe with unseemly haste, things ain't gong to be getting better any time soon.

Trust in politicians and the Government has never been lower, and everyone has an axe to grind about something. But gathering outside a politician's house for any reason, no matter how 'legitimate' you may think your cause is, has to be condemned as beyond the pale.

We haven't had the civil unrest that has marred the rest of Europe, but that's only because we don't have that French tradition of wrecking the gaff every time something doesn't go your way.

However, that is precisely what these fringe, hard-line malcontents want. Chaos is their medium, and it's where they excel. In fact, looking at the events and statements surrounding Sunday's protest, it's obvious that was this was merely an exploratory expedition, designed to see how far they could push things.

If that was indeed the case, then they have succeeded. Not only were they able to act with impunity, they have now emboldened every other wannabe Wolfie Smith (ask your parents) who thinks there's something brave about gathering outside a stranger's house and freaking out the inhabitants. There is, of course, one obvious solution to deter any crowds who might turn up outside your driveway - just turn the hose on them. After all, they love the idea of free water, so why not give them some?

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