Did Kevin Vickers overreact?

Diplomatic and security experts are debate Canadian ambassador’s decision to intervene


OTTAWA — Diplomatic and security experts are raising questions over a Canadian ambassador’s decision to subdue a protester.

Neither Prime Minister Trudeau nor Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion are commenting on Kevin Vickers’ actions in Dublin this week.

But former Canadian diplomat Gar Purdy says it appears Vickers overreacted when he grabbed a republican protester who tried to rush an event marking the death of British soldiers.

And Terrence Chase, a former Canadian Forces soldier who is the director of Surrey, B-C-based Defence Intelligence Service, says although Vickers was unharmed in the altercation, the ambassador has raised new security concerns for himself.

He and Purdy both say Irish police will have to consider whether Vickers’ high-profile reaction to Murphy’s peaceful demonstration could attract the violent fringe of the long-running Irish republican movement.

Vickers is best known for his part in shooting and killing an armed assailant inside the Parliament buildings, where he served as sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers, right, wrestles with a protester during a State ceremony to remember the British soldiers who died during the Easter Rising at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin Thursday May 26, 2016.  Vickers helped subdue a demonstrator who began chanting “insult” at the service commemorating more than 100 British soldiers killed trying to suppress the Easter Rising a century ago. (Brian Lawless/AP)

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers, right, wrestles with a protester during a State ceremony to remember the British soldiers who died during the Easter Rising at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin Thursday May 26, 2016.  (Brian Lawless, AP)

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Did Kevin Vickers overreact?

  1. I am Canadian and I think that Kevin Vickers acted inappropriately, disrespectfully, foolishly and, in fact, illegally in tackling the Irish protester. There was no apparent evidence that the protester was a threat to anyone’s safety and the event was adequately staffed with Irish police who are capable of handling such matters at their discretion and who have the right to do so as well as knowledge, experience, and discernment in dealing with Irish public protest, Irish law, and its proper and effective enforcement. It is an insult to the Gardaí and the Irish people for a foreign visitor to interfere with Irish civil liberties and law enforcement. Moreover, the ill-advised actions of Vickers could have inadvertent consequences for the Irish people, consequences that the Irish are more capable of assessing and anticipating than a foreign diplomat is likely to be. To say the least, Vickers behaved extremely undiplomatically and ought to be removed from his post as Canadian ambassador. He should also issue a sincere public apology to Ireland and the Irish people. That would constitute diplomatic and appropriate behaviour. As for any possible fallout for the Irish people from the actions of Vickers, that might be irreversible, and he ought to be held accountable. I do not believe Vickers should be treated any more leniently than a non-diplomat would be in this matter.

  2. unfortunately he should be recalled. There is no excuse for his reaction. He is a guest of the irish people in their country. The least of the punishment is to recall him.Let him come home and fade away

  3. There is every excuse for his action. He was involved in a terrorist attack on Canadian soil at the parliament grounds and he had to shoot and kill a man. He no doubt suffers from PTSD. An unarmed Canadian soldier died that day. Mr. Vickers likely suffers from PTSD. Until he arrived in Ireland, his job has always been to deal with people who posed threats. He did what came to him automatically. There have been so many terrorists bombings in Belgium and Paris as well as the aborted bombing on the train in Paris that was stopped because American tourists stopped the bomber. This man acted in a way that was suspicious. He was carrying a sign. He was running and yelling. Vickers acted on instinct. Some may believe Vickers’ response was under his control. I don’t believe it was. I believe he responded in the way he has been trained to. We Canadians were very glad to have him the day Parliament was attacked and had this man been armed, the Irish would have been glad to have him as well.

    • I meant to say, the protestor was not carrying a sign. He jumped up suddenly and started running and yelling.

    • Regardless of the possible reasons for Mr. Vickers behaving as he did–and we do not know what those are–it was still inappropriate and ultimately disrespectful, illegal, and foolish, and his actions still have potentially negative consequences for the Irish and for Canada. The fact that what Mr. Vickers did on parliament hill is considered heroic by many does not render all of his subsequent deeds heroic. Each act must be judged on its own merits or lack thereof. What occurred on parliament hill in 2014 is irrelevant with respect to judging whether or not Vickers overreacted in Dublin. The fact that a possible reason for his overreaction is that he MIGHT suffer from PTSD does not mean that he did not behave inappropriately, disrespectfully, illegally, or even foolishly, and it certainly does not render him an effective ambassador or unaccountable for his actions. This event is not all about Mr. Vickers. It is also about Mr. Murphy, the Irish Gardaí, the Irish people in general, Irish law, Irish civil liberties, Irish politics, and international relations. Moreover, we cannot assume that “the Irish” (as though they are all of one mind–they, like any other population, are not) are pleased with what Mr. Vickers did at the Dublin ceremony.

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