SIMON HARRIS has slammed the anti-lockdown protests in Ireland, branding them "an attack on democracy".
The Minister for Further and Higher Education referred to the demonstrations as "thuggery" rather than as a protest.
On St Patrick's Day, anti-lockdown groups are set to march in Dublin to protest the nation's continued implementation of lockdown measures, mirroring protests over the past few weeks, which have seen gardaí - at times - violently clashing with demonstrators.
Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Bus Eireann apprenticeship programme at Broadstone depot in Dublin, Harris described the protests and "an attack".
"On the broader issue of the more disturbing scenes we saw in our Capital city, which I don't believe was a protest, what we saw a number of weeks ago, with people taking a firework device and aiming it directly at gardaí, was not a protest, it was an attack," he said.
"It was an attack on the men and women of our Garda Síochána. It's an attack on democracy and it's an attack on who we are as people.
"And this country should not think it is immune to those far-right elements that sadly we've seen bubble up to the surface in other countries as well.
"So there are people who wish to protest about things, and then there are people who go out to engage in thuggery and it's very important that we differentiate between the two."
Ireland began this current lockdown back in December, and the Government confirmed that it will run until the end of April at the very least.
Reports suggest that it could even be extended beyond that given the country's Covid-19 vaccine supply issues of late.