Halligan: 'You don’t go to the home of a politician inflicting pain on their family'

Minister of State John Halligan has described as “grossly unfair and unnecessary” the protest on Sunday outside the home of Minister for Health Simon Harris.

“There’s a way to deal with politicians – wait for a chance at the ballot box,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

“All politicians are firstly human beings, they have wives, husbands, lovers, children.”

Mr Halligan said there were other ways to protest and he fully supported the constitutional right to do so. He had no problem with protestors coming to his office door.

But it was “grossly unfair and unnecessary” to go to a politician’s home and having an impact on their family.

“The place to get into this is in debates on shows like this, on the street opposite the Dáil. You don’t go to the home of a politician inflicting pain on their family.

If we have reached a state like that in Irish politics then we’re in trouble.

He called on people to wait “and let’s hear what Simon Harris has to say and what the PwC report says.”

He said former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had been “executed before trial”.

Mr Halligan said he had full confidence in Simon Harris.

“It’s a tough job somebody has to do it. Let’s not crucify the man. Let’s be constructive. It’s a very difficult time when we have the complexity of Brexit. Let’s stand together.”

Veteran mortgage rights campaigner David Hall said the homes of politicians should be “off limits” and that while he understood that people were frustrated and there was great anger, “it is not acceptable to run up at the house.

"There are many means of protest. The HSE has abundant sites at which to protest.”

Liam Herrick of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties also criticised the protest outside the Minister’s family home.

There was a constitutional right to peaceful protest which is the “absolute corner stone of democracy,” but this was competing with “the right to privacy, the family right to the inviolability of the family home.”

He said that yesterday’s protest had been counter productive because the discussion today was about the protest and not the Minister’s action.

Fine Gael Senator Gabrielle McFadden told the programme that there was been “a coarsening of political discussion” because of social media.

“Yesterday was absolutely disgusting.”

She said she had protested herself in the past, but it had been respectful and peaceful, but “yesterday a line was crossed. The Minister is a father and a husband first, a politicians second.

“To do that at his home, at this special time for his family with a new baby, he should be enjoying it.

"I think it was disgusting. Just because he was elected doesn’t mean he gave up his rights.”

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