A LEADING Irish immunologist has been targetted with physical and verbal abuse from an anti-vaxxer over his work in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College in Dublin has emerged as some of a household name over the past 12 months due to his work and involvement in Ireland’s battle against the coronavirus.
A regular fixture on television and radio, Professor O’Neill’s high-profile status has also made him a target for those opposed to vaccines and also face masks.
He is regularly the target of abuse on social media and forced to block trolls on platforms like Twitter.
However, on at least one occasion, the abuse has spilled over into the real world.
Speaking during an interview with Newstalk, Professor O’Neill revealed he was once attacked by someone involved in the anti-vaxx movement.
That attack took place while the Irish immunologist was walking down Grafton Street.
He said: “Around three months ago, I was walking down Grafton Street one lunchtime and some guy pulled me by the collar.
“He pulled me back. I got a fright.
“He started shouting at me: ‘Oh you’re pro-vaccine. You’re damaging children.’
“There is the anti-vax lobby out there, you know.
“He was struggling himself with various issues, is the way I would put it. So I just kept walking.
“But it did give me a fright I must say. I just kept walking up the street a bit more.”
Despite having to endure experiences like this, Professor O’Neill appears philosophical, explaining that you sometimes have to “expect it” and there is little you can do to prevent it happening.
He added: “I told a friend of mine afterward. ‘You should have chinned him,’ he said to me.
“But I’m not going assault people on Grafton Street. It is a bit strange. He was a brave man.”
Dublin has proven something of a hotspot for anti-vaxxers in Ireland with several protests held in the Irish capital.