Covid conspiracy theorists are targeting school teachers, principals, special needs assistants, Tusla staff, Minister for Education Norma Foley and even Trinity professor Luke O’Neill in a “‘war’ against the vaccinated and the Government”.
ast weekend a group of protesters gathered outside the home of Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and the week before they were outside the home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
But the anti-establishment movement has taken a sinister twist in recent weeks as a number of groups — all with their own ideologies and beliefs reinforced by the pandemic — take aim at members of the community to vent their dangerous stance on Covid-19.
An investigation by the Sunday Independent has uncovered attempts by extremists to confront school staff as well as public figures, including Mr Varadkar and Professor Luke O’Neill, at their homes — and identified some of those involved.
Videos posted online in the past week show individuals making threats towards politicians — including one woman who wants to “hang these bastards” — while the home addresses of some health professionals have been listed on extremist websites.
“You are full of crap,” Covid-denier Dara O’Flaherty shouted before putting the phone down when contacted by the Sunday Independent.
The failed election candidate, who has been spreading fear among the public for the past year, posted a chilling video online last week.
In it O’Flaherty vowed to target those he believes are part of a Covid-19 conspiracy by visiting them in their homes and workplaces and “arresting” them.
“If you don’t wish to co-operate then we will be coming to your house, we will be coming to your place of business and we will be coming to your schools or colleges.”
A member of the protest group Rise Up Galway, O’Flaherty takes part in ‘freedom’ rallies and recently joined a protest outside Mr Varadkar’s home.
“I want you to realise that this isn’t going away,” he said in his video. “You will answer and when you think you can hide from us we’ll go to your wife’s place of business, or your husband’s place of business. When you think they can hide from us, I’ll go to your parents’ house, your uncle’s house, your best friend’s house,” he said.
But he’s not the only extremist who wants to derail the establishment.
Anti-vaxx campaigner Andy Heasman — who is selling t-shirts with the words: “if you tolerate this then your children will be next” printed on the front for €15 each — shared Professor O’Neil’s home address on a secret social media site last week. A message posted by one user in response to Heasman asserts that the Trinity College Dublin professor “needs to be put on notice next”.
It can also be revealed how on September 24, the Minister for Education and several schools were “served” with a “notice of liability” by the “Common Law Court of Éire” — a movement peddled by former UCD professor and Covid conspiracy theorist Dolores Cahill — which holds its own kangaroo courts.
In one of the sinister letters, seen by this newspaper, the Covid conspiracy group warns Minister Foley, school principals and staff, including special needs assistants, to take heed of their message or there could be consequences.
This message asks that those in receipt of the letter take notice that “failure by you in your duty of care to students by imposition or allowing of face masks/coverings, segregation of students, hand sanitising, social distancing, Covid testing, temperature taking, Covid vaccines, or any policies which result in harmful outcomes for students, will incur liabilities on the enforcer”.
“If you fail to do the right thing, we the living men and women and Common Law Court of Éire will strip you of your assets, homes, cars, land. Make no mistake about this,” part of the letter read.
It’s understood some of the schools that have received the letters in Co Cork include Owenabue Educate Together (ET) National School, Holy Well, St Mary’s and Carrigaline ET in Carrigaline, along with Fermoy ET and schools near them, Midleton ET, Rochestown ET and Cork ET. Other schools throughout the country have also been targeted.
A staff member at one of the schools — which has ignored the threat — was too afraid to comment, saying: “The worry is that the school would end up targeted.”
There is no suggestion either Cahill or O’Flaherty was responsible for the letters. However, once-renowned immunologist Cahill did claim in a September 29 online interview that school principals and others could be “arrested” for endorsing the Covid-19 vaccine under “Common Law”.
And on October 5 O’Flaherty wrote on Facebook that anyone involved in “crimes against humanity will be arrested”.
A Department of Education spokesman would not respond to questions about the letters and instead said the Covid-19 measures “protects pupils, their parents and school staff”.
In March last year O’Flaherty was convicted of being drunk in public as well as being abusive or threatening to gardaí, having shouted: “I’m going to kill you and your family” while being arrested. Then in March this year, he was arrested for breaching security at the Dáil during which he called gardaí “f**king Nazis”. On September 29 O’Flaherty was arrested again outside the Australian embassy where he was protesting against the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.
When contacted by the Sunday Independent O’Flaherty questioned why newspapers such as this one are not reporting on vaccine-related deaths in the US and Europe — an assertion dismissed by health experts. He then ended the call and sent a flurry of text messages.
DO’F: “Do you feel this is important information for the Irish people to know when deciding on their medical and health needs? I intend using your answers to prosecute you for reckless endangerment and that’s a life sentence. So think carefully before you answer and do not ignore me.”
SI: “I am happy to discuss this with you over the phone. I also want to give you the opportunity to explain the ‘Common Law’ movement.”
DO’F: “Yes, I am on a phone and you are on a phone, your obfuscation is damning. Answer the questions I have asked you, without deception tactics.”
SI: “You can let me know when suits to talk.”
DO’F: “So you are refusing to answer my questions and you are dishonestly purporting that it is more reliable to transmit oral information and have readers trust your translation of the oral information to textual information. You currently stand accused of hijacking the title of journalist in order to push Big Pharma propaganda.”
SI: “Am I under arrest?”
DO’F: “Why do you expect you have a right to be answered honestly but I do not?”
SI: “Because I am not the one who is threatening to arrest members of the public.”
DO’F: “Are you trying to suggest that Irish nationals do not have the right to arrest wrongdoers on their island? Ya big f**kin’ eejit!.”
SI: “Do you think it’s wrong to intimidate and threaten people in this way?”
He didn’t answer the question. Instead, O’Flaherty posted screenshots of our text exchange online, claiming he and his supporters “will be able to use this evidence in Nuremberg II”. “Could someone put this treasonous coward on constructive notice for me,” he added.
Another Covid denier from Co Galway who goes by the name of David ‘Irish Chariot’ O’Reilly on Facebook has also been active in his area. He was arrested alongside O’Flaherty in January for trespassing on the grounds of University Hospital Galway.
However, in more recent weeks, photographs and videos posted online show him protesting outside schools with banners reading “no forced vaccines”. On September 24 O’Reilly took to social media and wrote: “‘Leave our kids alone — our bodies our choice.”
“Nearly every secondary school in the west and south-west has had a registered letter of legal notice. Now it’s up to all of us to let them all know outside the school gates,” he wrote.
When contacted by this newspaper, O’Reilly was asked if he too intended to “arrest” teachers and if he accepted his protests had intimidated children and teachers.
After complaining about the media appearing to have “surrendered and sold its weapons to the enemy”, he replied: “Your questions to me don’t reflect the nature of what we are doing.”
Last week protesters gathered outside the home of Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan where some claimed the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) head is engaging in experimentation on children.
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One protester, Angela Ray, uses social media to post videos criticising the Government and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for the way “these people are treating children in care when it comes to vaccination for Covid”.
Last month Ray tweeted about bringing her message to the doors of politicians and included the names of Mr Varadkar, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Bernard Gloster, the Tusla chief executive.
Asked if she felt her behaviour has been irresponsible, Ray told this newspaper: “We would ask the people calling us irresponsible or dangerous to remember the mother and baby homes, the cervical cancer scandal, the churches’ abuse and many many other fallings within our society and maybe think about who the dangerous and irresponsible people really are.”
In a statement, Mr Gloster said he had “no difficulty with lawful protest in public places, objection or complaint about the work of the agency”. But he added: “I absolutely draw the line at any objectors coming to the private homes of public representatives or public servants, whether that be my home or the home of any staff member in Tusla.”
In another video shared last weekend, protester Charmaine Mulligan issued a threat towards politicians, saying: “When you hang the top, the rest will fall and beg for mercy.”
“These demons must be served justice; the only way they’ll stop is to hang these bastards. The mission for you men is to organise a military, to kick their doors in and drag them out without hesitation,” she said.
Having already protested outside Mr Varadkar’s home, Mulligan said they would return again and “call him out for the bastard he is”. She also made a number of homophobic remarks.
“If they are scaring our babies with mind-f**kery, we are going to scare them. If they pick on our brothers we are going to stand outside their houses.”
One of the most recognised anti-vaxxers is Antonio Mureddu who encouraged Covid-stricken Joe McCarron to leave a Donegal hospital prior to the latter’s death last month.
He is being investigated by gardaí in connection to the incident and, despite sharing misinformation on his Telegram account regularly, has remained quiet in recent weeks.
The Sunday Independent finally got in touch with him last week and asked if he was ready to answer questions about the circumstances around Mr McCarron’s removal from hospital.
He replied: “You lodge €100,000 in my account and of course I’ll do an interview with you.”
Scandi-Irish activism group Ireland Against Fascism has been following the rise of these groups during the pandemic and the various “bizarre demonstrations and propaganda”.
“It’s getting unbelievably sick and twisted in some circles and you now have some sections preparing for ‘war’ against the vaccinated and the Government,” said a spokesman.