Three gay men ‘hunted’ in Phoenix Park by six men with knives in ‘shocking’ incident

Fine Gael Senator says far too many attacks on people because of sexuality by those who ‘do not accept’ equality

Senator Barry Ward called for garda patrols of the park. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/The Irish Times

Three gay men walking in the Phoenix Park in Dublin were “hunted” by six men with knives because of their sexuality in an incident this week, the Seanad heard.

Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward said he had been informed by one of the men that he was in the park with two of his friends when they were approached by a group of men.

“They were chased down and, as he said, ‘hunted’ by six men with knives,” Mr Ward said. He said the men got away but “but God knows what would have happened if they had not”.

Mr Ward asked “what on earth is going on that this still happens in Ireland in 2024 when every right- thinking member of society recognised the normality of sexual relationships between people of the same gender or same sex?”


Raising the issue in the Seanad he asked why incidents like this were not being tackled. “I ask because when the three friends went to the guards about it, they were told there was no CCTV so they could not identify the crowd. That’s not good enough,” he said, adding that there should at least be patrols in the park to protect people.

If necessary “there needs to be further education for the park rangers or for other Garda present in the Phoenix Park to protect people because attacks are absolutely unacceptable”.

He called for a debate on the steps needed “to protect everyone equally” and pointed to June being Pride month with its festival taking place on the 28th.

Mr Ward said Ireland has “come so far as a country in acknowledging the special nature of people who have pride in their sexuality and are showing that to us. We have acknowledged their right to equal access to marriage and other things in this country.”

But “there are people in this country who do not acknowledge or accept it. We see reports far too regularly of people being attacked because of their sexuality or being abused on the street.

“These are ordinary people walking down the street holding hands getting verbal abuse from people who do not seem to understand that they are perfectly entitled to do that,” he said.

In reply to queries, the Garda told The Irish Times it was aware of “an incident alleged to have occurred in the Phoenix Park” on Monday night but that no complaint had been made for investigation.

“Gardaí responded at 11:35pm but following a lengthy patrol of the area no person made any formal report to An Garda Síochána,” the Garda said.

It added “anyone with direct knowledge or who has been a victim of such an incident in the area” should contact An Garda Síochána at Cabra Garda station or the diversity unit at the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau.

Following reports of the incident, the Garda had also been in contact with LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups, it said.

Acting Seanad leader Fiona O’Loughlin described the incident as “shocking”. She said “we have changed our legislation. Unfortunately, there are people who have not changed their minds and hearts.”

She expressed concern that some councillors elected in the local elections “hold many beliefs in the LGBT area”.

Ms O’Loughlin said: “I have seen evidence of one such councillor, certainly being homophobic and calling people names I will not repeat in this House. We have a big task in society and we have to do what we can.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times