Gardaí have begun building criminal cases against anti-vaccination campaigners who have been targeting politicians by protesting outside their homes.
It’s understood by the Sunday Independent that Gardaí will be seeking to bring criminal charges under incitement to hatred legislation and under public order laws.
The protesters have targeted politicians and public figures including Tánaiaste Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and broadcaster Joe Duffy.
A source at Garda headquarters stated that the “most troubling” protest to date was the one that took place outside Varadkar’s home which included a “homophobic” event.
According to a senior source, Gardaí did not want to escalate the situation by making arrests unless there is an immediate risk to the public with the source adding that people have the right to protest.
“The concept of going in with batons raised to make arrests at these protests is not the approach being adopted,”.
Saying that it could inflame things, the source said that Gardaí will instead be building criminal cases when it can be proven that an offence had taken place.
“Gardaí have to strike a balance in terms of freedom of speech and weigh this up against whether criminal offences are being committed at these protests.”