Gar­daí claimed they wore bal­a­clavas at evic­tion to pre­vent on­line abuse. Within 66 hours, this garda was iden­ti­fied and sub­jected to sin­is­ter vit­riol on Face­book

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - FREE INSIDE - By Deb­bie McCann

A GARDA who po­liced the Take Back The City protest this week has been threat­ened with a bul­let to the head and a ca­ble tie around his neck af­ter he was named and pic­tured on so­cial me­dia this week, the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day can re­veal.

The garda, who was one of the of­fi­cers heav­ily crit­i­cised for wear­ing a fire-re­sis­tant hood, had his pic­ture and daily move­ments shared more than a thou­sand times on so­cial me­dia by last night.

Vile com­ments, in­clud­ing sin­is­ter threats, per­sonal in­sults and com­ments about where he eats each day and where he is sta­tioned, ap­peared un­der his pic­ture – which was shared just over 66 hours af­ter help­ing to po­lice the con­tro­ver­sial protest on Tues­day – de­spite the fact that he hid his face. One of those who com­mented on the

sin­is­ter post, sug­gested ‘a ca­ble tie round the fat c**ts neck’. An­other said: ‘This guy needs to be hit in the head with a bul­let.’

Gar­daí came in for crit­i­cism this week af­ter pic­tures emerged of a num­ber of of­fi­cers wear­ing fire-re­sis­tant hoods along­side a pri­vate se­cu­rity firm who were wear­ing bal­a­clavas while evict­ing pro­test­ers from an oc­cu­pied build­ing on Dublin’s North Fred­er­ick Street, on foot of a court or­der.

The group Take Back The City is call­ing for an end to the home­less­ness cri­sis. For three weeks, ac­tivists had oc­cu­pied

‘Needs to be hit in the head with bul­let’

34 North Fred­er­ick Street, Dublin 1.

Af­ter the pic­tures emerged, the Polic­ing Au­thor­ity said the images ‘did not in­spire con­fi­dence’ while the Garda Com­mis­sioner Drew Har­ris ac­knowl­edged the gar­daí should not have been wear­ing the hoods with­out also us­ing pro­tec­tive hel­mets. The in­ci­dent led to a march and sit-in on Wed­nes­day.

Garda sources pointed to fears of so­cial me­dia be­ing used to in­tim­i­date of­fi­cers.

Those fears were re­alised last night for one mem­ber of the force who po­liced the protest on Tues­day.

Some of the most egre­gious com­ments on the post, in­clud­ing more threats with bombs and guns, were be­ing taken down soon af­ter be­ing put up.

The orig­i­nal post shared two clear pic­tures of the garda along­side a pic­ture of him in the Garda-is­sued fire re­sis­tant hood. The post read: ‘Wel­come To Dig­i­tal Age Of Fa­cial Recog­ni­tion Soft­ware. Meet Garda ***** who can be found ev­ery day stuff­ing his face in [a named restau­rant], that’s when he is not wan­der­ing the cor­ri­dors of the [place of work] in search of [al­le­ga­tion of as­sault].’

Sources who know the garda in­volved said last night how they were ‘dis­gusted’ by the move and added he is a ‘lovely’ per­son. One source said: ‘I was dis­gusted when I saw his face be­ing shared. He is a very car­ing fella. You’re afraid go­ing into work, you’re afraid be­ing fol­lowed home. I’m not ex­ag­ger­at­ing this, but lads will say: “I’m not go­ing out to do this or that protest if I’m go­ing to be shown all over so­cial me­dia.”

‘The other thing is your fam­ily is wor­ried. Stuff like that can re­ally af­fect you.’

The GRA said last night it did not want to com­ment on the shar­ing of the pic­ture.

But sources within the or­gan­i­sa­tion said the rea­son the gar­daí had worn the hoods on Tues­day was ‘partly the threat from so­cial me­dia’. Gar­daí, one source ar­gued, are ‘very eas­ily iden­ti­fied by their shoul­der num­ber – it’s not like they’re not trans­par­ent’.

How­ever, the source went on, ‘be­cause of pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence of this type of protest’, the gar­daí in­volved de­cided to wear the hoods.

‘They were try­ing to hide noth­ing, only pro­tect them­selves from so­cial me­dia. All the fears of those mem­bers have been jus­ti­fied.’

The source added of the gar­daí: ‘These are peo­ple do­ing their jobs. And be­cause of that, they’re be­ing abused and threat­ened.’

An­other source told how the ‘on­line vig­i­lantes’ are de­tract­ing from the le­git­i­mate protest. ‘I’ve no prob­lem with any­one protest­ing, but this is de­tract­ing from the cen­tral is­sue here. Any­body who has that an­tiGarda agenda seems to be hi­jack­ing it.’

A Garda spokesper­son told the MoS last night: ‘An Garda Síochána takes the safety of its mem­bers very se­ri­ously. In gen­eral, if any Garda mem­ber is sub­ject to threats then this is in­ves­ti­gated and the sit­u­a­tion risk as­sessed to see what mea­sures are re­quired to en­sure their safety.’

A re­quest for a com­ment from Take Back The City – which is not the or­gan­i­sa­tion which shared the pic­ture – was not re­sponded to.

‘Afraid go­ing to work, afraid go­ing home’

dUty: The garda on Tues­day

sin­is­ter: The threat on­line

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