A GROUP that held a protest this afternoon outside the home of Health Minister Simon Harris has defended its actions.
Around a dozen members of a group called the Fingal Battalion Direction Action Group protested against the housing crisis and Mr Harris’ record as Health Minister.
Gardaí attended the protest, which marked the launch of the group’s Bring It To Their Doors campaign.
However their actions have been widely condemned, with Mr Harris at home with his wife and three-week-old daughter during the protest.
Among those critical of the group’s actions was the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who spoke out after the protestors pledged their support for striking Irish nurses.
Despite the criticism, the Fingal Battalion was unrepentant, saying in a social media post: “Simon Harris is not invincible because he now has a family.
“What about all the families that Simon and his party have affected?
“We make no apologies for our silent, peaceful and dignified protest.
“Garda arrived at the scene and acknowledged our right to hold a peaceful demonstration.”
Speaking outside Mr Harris’ home, a member of the Fingal Battalion called on others to follow their example.
“Since being giving this position he has completely neglected it, he’s not even qualified for this position,” said a spokesperson.
“We are all aware of the smear test scandal, the thousands of patients on trolleys, medical cannabis bill, the outrageous, extravagant costs of the new hospital and the nurses’ strike, which we fully support.”
She added: “Today we launched a campaign to Bring It To Their Doors. We urge all groups all over Ireland to get involved.
“It can be your local TD, councillors, sheriffs, judges or anyone that plays a part in bringing austerity, corruption or evictions to the people of Ireland.
“It’s time to bring it to their doors, they’ve brought enough to our doors.”
The protest comes in the wake of Saturday’s march through Dublin in support of striking nurses, while the Minister has been criticised over the rising cost of the new children’s hospital.
Mr Harris is expected to apologise in the Dáil this week for failing to indicate in a response to a parliamentary question that costs of the hospital were escalating.
Yet despite recent criticism levelled at the Minister, today’s protest at his home drew condemnation from the INMO, Harris’ fellow Fine Gael members and rival TDs, among others.
The INMO and its members condemn in the strongest possible terms the protests today outside Minister Harris' family home. The protests are completely inappropriate.
— Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (@INMO_IRL) February 10, 2019
— Noel Rock (@NoelRock) February 10, 2019
And we wonder why people are put off being a politician? Go figure. Protesters gather outside Health Minister Simon Harris' family home https://t.co/WhLuYgEOdW
— ⚖️Josepha Madigan (@josephamadigan) February 10, 2019
Absolutely disgraceful behavior! Everyone has the right to peaceful protest but not outside someone’s home. How has this become acceptable!? https://t.co/WVTWibax2a
— Helen McEntee TD (@HMcEntee) February 10, 2019
This is wrong. Simply wrong. I hope the Gardaí ensure the family are safe. https://t.co/PVeXlQMRc2
— Stephen Kinsella (@stephenkinsella) February 10, 2019
What a thick thing to do. Family homes and hospitals should be protest free. When they bring in the hospital protest ban, I'd suggest a home protest ban too https://t.co/gyvAYUbFYu
— Thomas Byrne TD (@ThomasByrneTD) February 10, 2019