A WELL-KNOWN Irish conspiracy theorist is believed to be behind the threatening anonymous phone calls made to top public health officials.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn, and RTÉ Health Correspondent Fergal Bowers are among those who received threatening and menacing phonecalls at around 3am on Friday night last.
Does anyone recognise this voice? I got this message just after 3.30 am this morning via No Phone ID. I will be alerting the relevant authorities. pic.twitter.com/B9Duln1ehf
— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) July 17, 2021
On one occasion, a family member of Dr Holohan answered the phone to the threatening call.
The Journal now reports that An Garda Síochána are following a "definite line of enquiry" as to who was behind the messages, with sources telling the outlet a woman with a "long history as a Covid denier and conspiracy theorist" is a person of interest in the case.
It is believed this woman may have encouraged the abusive calls after she shared the phone number of Dr Tony Holohan on social media.
The woman has thousands of followers on social media-- despite being banned on platforms such as Facebook-- and has urged her followers to "fight back" against the restrictions on numerous occasions, often sharing misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and the virus.
Despite being banned on certain platforms, the woman may have set up 'sock puppet' accounts, on various sites-- Facebook has now disabled the account which shared Dr Holohan's phone number after being approached by The Journal.
Speaking on Saturday, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, condemned the menacing anonymous calls, saying it was "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," he wrote on social media.
"They deserve our respect and support."
Former Health Minister and current Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, said he was "sickened" to hear about the abusive calls the public figures were receiving.
"Our public health officials have been working around the clock for well over a year now to keep us safe & provide us with the best possible expert advice," he said.
"Sickened to hear of abusive calls being directed at them & their families."
Both Facebook and An Garda Síochána continue to investigate.