Sunday 24 March 2019

Protesters gather at family home of Simon Harris

Deputy Stephen Donnelly
Deputy Stephen Donnelly
Councillor Jennifer Whitmore

Mary Fogarty

A group of protesters gathered outside the Delgany home of Minister Simon Harris last Sunday afternoon.

Garda Declan Lynch said that the people there were asked to cease and desist, which they did after a short period of time.

He said that Minister Harris had notified gardaí that the people had congregated outside his home.

The group held a banner which read 'Fingal Battalion Direct Action Group', and another reading 'Wicklow Says No'. At least one Greystones resident was among those protesting.

Mr Harris, his wife Caoimhe and their three-week-old daughter were at home at the time.

The protest has been condemned by Greystones elected representatives from other parties, including Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly, and Social Democrat councillor Jennifer Whitmore. 'I condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms,' said Deputy Donnelly. 'Protest is an acceptable and important part of the democratic process. To target someone's home is not protest, it's intimidation with no place in democracy. The actions taken were cowardly and thuggish.'

Minister Harris said that the protest had been 'very frightening' for his family.

'Obviously my number one priority is the safety and the well-being of my family. It was obviously a very frightening experience for them. Thankfully everyone is OK but a little bit shook,' he said.

'Like most people, I am really annoyed and frustrated at the developments surrounding the National Children's hospital,' said Cllr Jennifer Whitmore. 'I am angry at the incompetence and wastage that has been shown. I am livid at the condition of our health system and that it has brought our nurses to the brink. But... if you want to protest, do it at a politician's constituency office or at the ballot box. Family homes are out of bounds.'

While the 'Fingal Battalion Direct Action Group' spawned the hashtag #bringItToTheirDoors, on their social media, Cllr Whitmore's own Facebook page included the shorter #JustCopOn. Making a statement on their Facebook Page, the protest group said that their demonstration was peaceful and dignified.

'We attended his home in solidarity with all the families affected and left scared by Simon and his party on a daily basis,' they said, adding that nobody was in his front garden but standing outside on a public street.

Wicklow People