New powers needed to help Gardaí tackle protestors that picket outside individual’s private homes – Senator Malcolm Byrne

Published on: 03 July 2024

Senator Malcolm Byrne has said new powers are needed to help Gardaí tackle protestors that decide to picket outside individual’s private homes.
Senator Byrne’s Bill, the Protection of Private Residences (Against Targeted Picketing) Bill 2021, will be debated in the Seanad tomorrow.
The Bill would grant the Gardaí the power to deal with protests that specifically targeted private dwellings.
Speaking about the Bill, he said: “The right to protest is extremely healthy for our democracy and it is hugely important that the public can express their anger, opposition to or support for particular measures in peaceful protest.
“The majority of protests in this country are done in a peaceful, responsible way.
“However, especially in recent times, there have been increasingly frequent episodes of small fringe elements who have taken things into their own hands and decided to picket outside individual’s private homes, whether they be politicians, journalists, medical professionals or other citizens.
“Frankly, I do not think that is acceptable, and while I would really prefer that this legislation was not necessary, I do not believe the existing legislation is strong enough. The evidence for this is the fact that these protests are continuing and those carrying them out seem to think they are above the law.”
Senator Byrne introduced the Bill in 2021. The Bill would introduce a specific offence against people conducting a targeted protest against an individual in his or her principal private residence.
Senator Byrne said: “My hope is that this Bill can now progress as quickly as possible. I believe it is necessary in order to help strengthen the Gardaí’s hand and ensure that those who decide to take this kind of action will think twice before doing so.”