A debate has erupted in Ireland after Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan publicly supported the notion that it should be illegal to take any photos of the Gardai, Ireland’s police service, while they are on duty. It follows one police officer having his name and photo published in an angry backlash online.
Voicing his beliefs while speaking during a broadcast on RTÉ Radio One, he later took to Twitter to address the less-than-favorable response of the Irish public.
Flanagan was quick to say that press photographers were not at fault, and did not disturb the Gardai’s line of work. The public, however, were constantly found to be putting “multiple mobile phones in [the Gardai's] faces as they try to go about their policing.” He also added that the uploading of said photos to social media was creating a wave of threatening comments against the police that he deems to be “totally unacceptable.”
His comments come following an incident where an individual member of the Gardai was singled out and named on social media after attending a job involving the eviction of housing protestors. A photo accompanied his details when posted online, with threats being made against his well-being.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties expressed their dismay at Flanagan’s opinion, claiming it would “criminalize ordinary members of the public for sharing information about public events.”
Irish Prime Minister and Head of Government Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has calmed the situation by revealing there are no plans to outlaw the public taking images of the Gardai.