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VAC OFF Prof Luke O’Neill dragged back by his collar in the street for being the ‘vaccine guy’

About two months ago I was walking down Grafton Street on my lunch break and a guy pulled me back by the collar. I got a fright, thinking what is this about. He started shouting and roaring all kinds of abuse at me. Anti-vaccine stuff."

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The immunologist said he has been accosted three or four times in public in recent months.

The immunologist said he has been accosted three or four times in public in recent months.

The immunologist said he has been accosted three or four times in public in recent months.

Professor Luke O’Neill has spoken about how he was assaulted on Grafton Street by a man roaring “anti-vaccine stuff” at him and said he has had three or four abusive incidents with people in recent months.

The immunologist has risen to national fame due to his media appearances throughout the pandemic and this has brought with it plenty of negative attention, he explained on Claire Byrne Live.

“About two months ago I was walking down Grafton Street on my lunch break and a guy pulled me back by the collar. I got a fright, thinking what is this about. He started shouting and roaring all kinds of abuse at me. Anti-vaccine stuff.

“I just kept walking and he stopped, but he gave me a fright, I hadn’t had that before. He didn’t come after me, thankfully, he just kept roaring and shouting.

“That was assault. I got back to my lab and they said call the guards and report the guy but I didn’t bother...that was scary as I didn’t know what would happen next,” Prof O’Neill said.

He said there have been a few incidents where he has been accosted in public for promoting vaccine uptake, among other coronavirus-related issues, and on one occasion a member of the public stood up for him.

“About a month ago I was on the DART and I was working as I was very busy and this guy again started shouting at me, across from me in the seat. I said, ‘I beg your pardon, I’m working’ and left.

“He came after me into the next carriage. A little old lady in her 70s came over and said: ‘Leave Luke alone’ and he stopped. So she is now my bodyguard,” he joked.

The scientist was also filmed and prevented from leaving a car park in Galway while attending a conference by “anti-vaccine people” and said they only “backed off” once he threatened to phone the police.

“I’m pretty long in the tooth so I wasn’t too worried about it but I worry about younger scientists getting attacked in this way. I think it is a sad development that these types of attacks are happening.

“There’s a lot of anger out there but that doesn’t justify violence. I think people are frustrated. This is the worst part of the lockdown and people are fed up. That’s leveraged to bring people out on the streets and behave in that way. Then violence happens and the guards are being attacked - that’s very regrettable and I felt really outraged watching it on TV on Saturday,” he said on the scenes in the capital that saw violence towards gardaí at anti-lockdown protests.

Prof O’Neill said he was being attacked online but that it was easy to block people but said young female scientists were being “viciously attacked on Twitter”.

“This is designed to stop experts giving their opinion so we must keep getting the info out there to counter this epidemic of misinformation that’s terrible.”

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