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People Are Torn Over Kevin Vickers Grabbing An Irish Protester

Depending on who you ask, Canada's ambassador to Ireland either acted heroically or assaulted a peaceful protester.

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What are we to make of Kevin Vickers, Canada's ambassador to Ireland, charging a protester at a ceremony in Ireland?

The man yelled "this is an insult" according to Independent.ie. Vickers charged as the man retreated, eventually grabbing the protester and pulling him to the ground. Here's the video.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers tackles protester at ceremony to honour British soldiers killed in 1916 https://t.co/idQ3g16gG8

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Some background: the ceremony was to commemorate the deaths of British soldiers during the 1916 "Easter Rising" uprising by Irish nationalists. The British violently suppressed the uprising, killing hundreds of civilians in the process.

The protester was a member of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association and has been identified as Brian Murphy. He was actually protesting a contemporary issue, the imprisonment of two Northern Ireland men convicted of killing a police officer.

Given the context, several people have accused Vickers of assaulting a protester who was exercising his right to free speech. But on the Canadian side, much of the reaction was very different.

Vickers became famous after the 2014 Parliament Hill shooting. He was involved in the takedown of gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and many media outlets portrayed him as the hero of the shooting. Former prime minister Stephen Harper appointed him as ambassador to Ireland shortly afterward.

Lots of reaction, including from former cabinet ministers and members of the media, portrayed Vickers as heroic and a badass.

Who needs superheroes when you've got Kevin Vickers? https://t.co/t4sYopCuUA

Listen world, don't mess with Kevin Vickers. https://t.co/QZYNriYg3T

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Canada's new superhero. To quote @carolyndunncbc "that guy is bad-ass" https://t.co/vt1SRiU5DE

Assault? He apprehended someone committing a crime. He deserves a handshake and a beer. https://t.co/Fl159sdaJ5

Kickin' ass and taking names! Don't mess with Vickers nuff said. https://t.co/DWAuwL7ygF

I couldn’t love Vickers more if I tried. https://t.co/CIGd0zG6CE

Here's the video. That's our Kev! #KevinVickers https://t.co/2RNz4ZfPkH

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Others saw Vickers' actions as wholly inappropriate, especially given that he's a diplomat.

Is there any possible defence of Vickers’ behaviour here? Did someone forget to explain to him what sort of creature an ambassador is?

I wonder how those celebrating Kevin Vickers' actions in Dublin would feel about China's ambassador assaulting Tibetan protesters in Ottawa.

Vickers' behaviour seems inappropriate to me. Out of line. Do we want ambassadors here to enforce civil order? No lives in danger.

VIckers is an asshole for doing this and I can't believe they're celebrating soldiers from a colonizing army: https://t.co/8QUxVAa5R6

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@SeaniieOShea Kevin Vickers is bang out of order! His actions = physical assault of an Irish citizen. Questions should be raised abt this!

Kevin Vickers is a Canadian hero, but he was totally in the wrong to interfere with a peaceful Irish protester on Irish soil.

But there's been no reaction yet from the Canadian government. The embassy in Ireland refused to comment.

Justin Trudeau will have the chance to answer whether he sees Vickers' actions as heroic or inappropriate when he faces the media at his party's convention this weekend.


Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.

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