WINNIPEG — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t say whether Canada’s ambassador to Ireland — who thwarted a gunman on Parliament Hill two years ago — will be disciplined after tackling a protester at a commemoration event last week.
Kevin Vickers, the former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, tackled protester Brian Murphy at a Dublin ceremony. It raised eyebrows in security and diplomacy circles. Vickers was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland after being hailed as a hero for his role in shooting and killing an armed assailant inside Parliament.
At the Liberal party convention in Winnipeg, Trudeau wouldn’t answer when asked by a reporter whether he would recall Vickers but did not defend his actions.
“It’s always easy to second-guess choices people make in emergency or unexpected situations,” Trudeau told reporters Saturday. “Canadians expect our diplomats abroad to do the right thing, to represent us well. We’re a country of people who believe in helping out and being part of the solutions, not part of the problems.
“That’s the perspective I take on this particular issue.”
The incident occurred at a ceremony to remember British soldiers killed in the 1916 Easter Rising, which also claimed the lives of some 450 Irish republicans.
A spokesperson for Ireland’s foreign affairs minister said a protester was disrupting the ceremony when “Ambassador Vickers reacted instinctively to prevent the individual’s encroachment.” Video from the event shows Vickers tackling the man and struggling with him before leading him away.
Vickers then returned to the ceremony while Murphy was arrested by police.
Murphy, the manager of a youth and community centre in Dublin, told The Canadian Press he was not a threat but appreciated how the international incident raised awareness about Irish republicanism.
The Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association, which Murphy belongs to, demanded an apology from the Canadian government and the “immediate removal” of Vickers as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland.
“Not only did Mr. Vickers interfere with the right of an Irish citizen to peacefully protest in his own country he undermined the role of the Irish state and the Garda (police) authority to deal with such protests,” the association said in a statement last week.