"Totally unacceptable" - Charlie Flanagan issues statement on law to ban photography of Gardaí 2 years ago

"Totally unacceptable" - Charlie Flanagan issues statement on law to ban photography of Gardaí

"The uploading of images of Gardaí undertaking their duties on social media and consequent threats and intimidation is totally unacceptable to me and that's why I am concerned."

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has expanded on remarks made on RTÉ Radio One on Monday morning when speaking with Sean O'Rourke.

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Flanagan had originally said that he was favourable to the idea of outlawing the photographing of Gardaí in the course of their duties.

After a large social media backlash, the Justice Minister attempted to clarify his comments, saying on Twitter that "The uploading of images of Gardaí undertaking their duties on social media and consequent threats and intimidation is totally unacceptable to me and that why I am concerned."

"Today I was asked if it should be illegal to photograph Gardaí carrying out their duties," his statement reads.

"To clarify: I believe transparency is vitally important; I’m on record as favouring Garda body cameras. I also greatly value the role of the media in providing objective reporting.

"However, I am concerned about the public order dimension of Gardaí having multiple mobile phones in their faces as they try to go about their policing duties. In my experience, press photographers are professional & do not impede Garda work.

"This is regrettably not always the case where public order issues arise. The uploading of images of Gardaí undertaking their duties on social media and consequent threats and intimidation is totally unacceptable to me and that why I am concerned," Flanagan concludes.

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When asked on RTÉ Radio 1 whether he was in favour of proposals for laws against filming or photographing Gardaí, Minister Flanagan said that he is.

“I acknowledge the fact that gardaí need to show identification,” he told Sean O’Rourke. “I too was somewhat concerned at the images of balaclavas on the streets of Dublin. These were disturbing.

“In fact, the resonance of that particular clothing goes right back to a dark period in our history I didn’t like to see it. However, I understand there are circumstances in which the gardaí for their own protection need to have fire-retardant masks as part of their uniform.

"I’m sure the commissioner will ensure proper protocols are observed in the future.”

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This follows the highly-publicised eviction of 34 North Frederick Street on Tuesday last which saw Gardaí which wore headgear that hid their faces physically remove the building's occupants.

Alleged online threats followed a member of the Gardaí who policed the removal, by people who identified the man using facial recognition software.

His identity was published on social media and threats against his life were allegedly made in the comments underneath.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has since condemned both the alleged threats and the use of face-covering garments while at the scene.

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Just last year, the Association for Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) called for a new criminal offence to be created for photographing or otherwise capturing an image of a garda in exercising their duties without their prior consent.

AGSI President Garda Sergeant Antoinette Cunningham expressed the need for such a motion by stating that some members "have found themselves on placed on some social media sites, their private, domestic lives, home addresses and members of their family have been referred to" in a way that is not connected to the duties that that member was carrying out.