Garda anti-terrorism unit probes alleged online threats to President Higgins

The Garda’s anti-terrorism unit has been tasked with investigating alleged online threats made against President Michael D Higgins.

The suspected threats, made in social media posts, referred to serious harm being inflicted on the President at his Phoenix Park residence.

The posts, purporting to be from a known anti-lockdown activist, were uploaded at the end of October and soon after reported to gardaí.

Garda sources at the time confirmed that an investigation was under way, which was initially thought to fall within the jurisdiction of local gardaí in the Dublin West Region.

However, it has since emerged that the matter was referred to Garda Headquarters, specifically the Garda National Crime and Security Intelligence Service (GNCSIS).

From there, it was tasked to the Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU), the force’s operational anti-terrorism section.

Investigations conducted by the SDU and the GNCSIS are typically shrouded in secrecy, but sources said apparent public threats of violence directed at the President were taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

Broadcasts

The investigation focuses on two broadcasts uploaded at the end of October by a woman who is known for her involvement in anti-mask or anti-lockdown protests.

In the first broadcast, the woman told her followers that a protest she had planned for outside the Dáil was being called off because she and her colleagues wanted to go to “the Park” instead to hold a demonstration outside the residence of Mr Higgins.

The protest at Áras an Uachtaráin did not go ahead.

A second broadcast contained alleged comments that harm should be inflicted on an individual, which, from the descriptions used, appeared to refer to the President.

The post said the victim should be “danced on” so that there is “nothing left of his head”.

At the time, one Garda source said that gardaí could not investigate every threat and rant posted online. However, senior officers said that given the nature of the videos, and the context in which they were made, an investigation was warranted.

The investigation is separate to a multitude of ongoing probes, conducted by local gardaí, into the organisers of anti-lockdown protests.

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