There are rarely “perfect solutions” to many problems in life and this week we gained and additional problem that needs urgent and serious addressing. I speak about the over-aggressive acts of a few outside our national Oireachtas. Since it was first used for its still modern day use, the public could approach it, stand at its gates, in effort to highlight a concern or try ask further questions to elected representatives entering or exiting. Members of the public would come with a cause, a concern, an aim to seek better resolution.

This week the nation experienced a bunch of extremists who turned up, simply to hurl abuse of the lowest kind, besides actually getting physical (or trying to) with elected representatives. Compared to previous “angry public” at the Oireachtas who have for years brought issues to it, this week’s bunch were simply ‘out for blood’.

I have protested in Dublin, at the Oireachtas more than once. It’s fair to say, many have. Those that have, 99% of them, have to their credit always protested with decency. They have showed up to highlight an issue – not to become one – and that’s a very important clarification of difference we really should note.

What the extremists want, is to provoke other people, elected and Garda in such a way, that further legal measures will have to be instigated in order to maintain a more peaceful and safe society. Once more measures are brought in, the extremists will point fingers and again scream about state abuse of rights and oppression.

1. The fact that their very actions might cause the reaction that they brought about, you are supposed to be distracted away from.
2. What about the rights of those on Oireachtas operating days, that just want to protest and highlight issues more peacefully though better ways, though signs, banners and oral speaking?

This week we witnessed an abuse of our ability to close quarter protest. The extremists wish to provoke enough to indeed, there will be a reaction that they will then use to claim with pointed fingers “See, we told you they would come for us!” The fact that the extremists came for previous blood, looking to provoke an over-reaching reaction, will of course be glossed over by them.

So, this is where we are.

1. Public are allowed to continue protesting at our Oireachtas as long as they behave themselves within the law – if we like the law or not. Garda will respectfully allow peaceful protests to occur – while also arresting those that do go too far through law breaking. The public will continue to be able to directly speak to elected.

2. Exclusion zones are installed around the Oireachtas. Public will lose ability to more speak to elected.

3. Protests are more strictly banned.

Now let’s take the above listed in reverse order.

3. This is NOT going to happen. Short version… Public and elected would be in national uproar if protest ability was hugely cracked down on.

2. Exclusion zones to stop protesting will further lead to possible worse consequences. If banned from protesting at the Oireachtas, some protesters will more take to protesting at the very homes of elected, their village or town offices – or worse, get more aggressive as elected walk down a street or visit ANY other location. Be it house, bar, restaurant, factory or gallery, etc.

1. This is the best (in my mind) continued allowed situation. However, rather than excluding groups carte-blanch, enmass, etc, individuals that are consistently very troublesome, they who repeatedly commit unlawful breeches of the peace, should be the very ones issued with barring orders – temporary reducing their access to locations – till such time they are willing to clarify that they will behave better, staying more within laws of desired peaceful behavior.

When extremists (deliberately) provoke others into over-reaction, into creating over-reaching, too wide encompassing defenses going up, we all lose abilities we, the more peaceful, have long respected and cherished.

There are elected in the Oireachtas that I certainly do not like. That’s putting it mildly. I question their antics on a daily basis. I have questioned some of them at the Oireachtas as they have entered and exited. As much as I oppose their antics, I respect that that I, indeed… we, still have the ability to freely do so. We should never lose that right and we should never allow extremists to make us lose that right.

Questioning and protesting at the Oireachtas is about causes and seeking better. We all visit the Oireachtas in hope of improving matters and lawfully sending a message to elected. When extremists abuse our methods of message delivery, we all must say “Enough” there too – appropriately – not in overreacting.
Protesting is about addressing an issue. It is not about creating a further issue. A very important distinction.