Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne has introduced a Bill that would prohibit protests outside residential homes, and could also extend to the banning of protests outside direct provision centres.
The Fianna Fáil Seanad group say they “intend to move the Bill to the next stage in this Seanad term.”
The Protection of Private Residences (Against Targeted Picketing) Bill 2021 is “designed to ban protests against individuals outside where they live”.
Byrne, who has been Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science since 2020 said, “If anyone is unhappy with the Government’s policy, they can protest outside Leinster House, outside Government departments or agencies, or outside elected representatives’ offices.”
He continued, “We need the legislation to protect homes. That applies to the temporary homes of those seeking refuge as much as to elected representatives”, adding that, “A person is entitled to security and safety in the place they call home”.
The Bill outlines that a “residential dwelling” includes “any permanent building being used by one or more occupants for residential purposes”, and “target” means to “direct something at a particular person or group or activity and includes a picket or protest activity that is targeted at an individual who is believed to reside in a particular residential dwelling.”
It further states that “It shall be an offence under this Act if a person organises or engages in, whether formally or informally, any targeted protest within 200 metres (or less) of a residential dwelling.”
Those found “guilty of an offence under section 2 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a class D fine”, while those “guilty of a second or subsequent offence shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or both.”