The sun was shining brightly on Market Square in Castlebar this afternoon when the Taoiseach Simon Harris arrived for his first official visit to Mayo’s county town.

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee joined him, together with MEP Maria Walsh and local Fine election candidates, and the former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny was also present.

Initially the welcome was warm, with a number of local Fine Gael supporters present welcoming the Taoiseach to Castlebar. Simon Harris was scheduled to speak to the media on the Square at 3.30pm and members of the local and national press were all present for that.

Before the press conference the Taoiseach and his supporters went into a local coffee shop -  Cuppa Joe’s and in the coffee shop a young man, a protester, began shouting at the Taoiseach asking Mr Harris for his view on a man in jail due to his stance on transgender issues.

He was escorted from the coffee shop, while outside a woman was shouting quite loudly at the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny about his view on the conditions provided for asylum seekers and refugees locally.

The shouting continued as Simon Harris and his entourage including Minister McEntee attempted to canvass briefly a number of businesses in the Dunnes area  - but were being pursued by members of the Burke family and dissatisfied protesters of the accommodation of asylum seekers and refugees.

After about ten minutes of extensive disruption and a rather unpleasant atmosphere the scheduled 3.30pm press conference was abandoned and the Taoiseach and his entourage quickly departed the county town.

Members of the press were then informed that the Taoiseach would take questions in Islandeady and we duly spoke to him there.

Among the questions posed was the Taoiseach’s view on the appropriateness of the level of protest by members of the Burke family ..

The Taoiseach , of course, was in Mayo today for the official opening of the Colm Horkan Memorial Park in Charlestown  - Detective Colm Horkan was killed while on duty four years ago.

 Simon Harris said the celebration in Charlestown today was tinged with great sadness but was a wonderful community event..

 

 

 

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