Gardaí investigating threats made to Michael D Higgins on social media in wake of vaccine certificate law

Gardaí investigating threats made to Michael D Higgins on social media in wake of vaccine certificate law

GARDAÍ have launchd an investigation into a number of threats made to Irish president Michael D Higgins on social media and during recent anti-lockdown protests.

The threats follow the arrival of the Health Amendment Bill - which Higgins signed into law - making it a legal requirement to have a digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate in order to avail of indoor dining areas and international travel.

Critics of the new law argue that it's discriminatory, and that it effectively coerces people into getting vaccinated, and denies freedoms to those who may not be medically able to get the jabs.

While Ireland's vaccine hesitancy rate is one of the lowest in Europe, many people want the freedom to choose not to accept the vaccine, or simply to wait until the long-term effects of it can be extensively analysed.

Protesters swarmed to the centre of Dublin in response to the legislation, and social media was alight with furious Irish residents.

The hashtag '#NotMyPresident' was trending on Twitter last week, and gardaí say they're examining threatening social media content targeting at Higgins.

"An Garda Siochana considers any suggestion in respect of the threat to use violence and/or perpetration of violence in a general sense or against named individuals or organisations as a matter of serious concern and could potentially be subject to criminal investigation in respect of such matters," a gardaí statement read.

This development comes just weeks after authorities began investigating threatening phone calls made to public health representatives Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn, and journalist Fergal Bowers.

Dr Holohan reportedly received a number of calls form an anonymous person who was abusive and threatening to a member of his family who answered the phone.

"It is absolutely appalling that public health doctors advising Government would be targeted with abuse for doing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic. They have worked relentlessly throughout Covid and have difficult jobs to do. They deserve our respect and support," Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted last week.