Wales' First Minister speaks for first time about ‘alarming’ protest outside his home

More than 500 protestors marched through Cardiff in July, with many later gathering outside Mark Drakeford's home.

Wales' First Minister has spoken for the first time about a "frightening" and "alarming" protest outside his family home, which prompted concerns for his security.

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protestors with loudspeakers and banners marched through Cardiff city centre on Saturday 24 July, with many later gathering outside Mark Drakeford's house.

Former First Minister Carwyn Jones and the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies later condemned the incident, with Mr Davies calling it "disturbing".

Speaking to ITV political programme Sharp End on Monday, Mark Drakeford said the right to protest is "very important" but should be exercised properly.

"The job I do, you expect people to express their views to you - sometimes positive, sometimes not," he told presenter Rob Osborne.

"But there's a place to do it, which is in the workplace - not at somebody's home.

"My real objection to what happened was not about me. But where I happen to live - on one side of my house there are elderly people who live there; immediately on the other side of my house there are children under the age of five living there. They were all at home that day. They didn't know what was going on. All they knew was there was a large crowd of people making a very significant amount of noise, which they found frightening and alarming.

"Now, it's wrong, isn't it, for people who have nothing to do with that debate to be targeted in that way. Protest outside the Welsh Government building; protest outside the Senedd. There are public spaces where the right to protest - which is very important - can be properly exercised, without alarming and creating genuine fear amongst people who have no responsibility at all for the issues that people were protesting about."

The First Minister spoke for the first time about the incident on ITV's political programme Sharp End.

Mr Drakeford touched on the subject of protests again later in the interview when asked about the climate change argument, with protestors recently blocking main roads around London.

When asked if he would support similar protests in Wales, he said: "I think that people's energies are better devoted to funding practical solutions to the very real problems that those protestors are concerned about, and doing it in ways that does not end up alienating the very people you need to convince.

"I think the experience of recent months has been that if you go about protests in the wrong way, instead of capturing hearts and minds, you drive the people you need to convince further away from you, rather than bringing you closer."

Environmental protestors have been blocking major roads around London, including the M25.

The First Minister said he believed Wales should focus on renewable energy against the backdrop of the climate crisis.

"My view is that the real future for green energy is renewable energy, and that that is what Wales should focus on, because we have so many advantages that allow us to overplay our part," he said.

"You ask me where I think the bulk of our effort should be made - I think it should be in wind, in solar, and - particularly in Wales - it should be in marine energy.

"We've seen in the latest energy difficulties the fact that the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. But the sea comes in and out twice a day, every year, every day, with absolute regularity. We're surrounded by sea on three sides in Wales. That's where our efforts should be concentrated."

Mark Drakeford has not ruled out the return of coronavirus restrictions in Wales. Credit: PA Images

During the interview, Mr Drakeford also spoke about the possibility of bringing back coronavirus restrictions in Wales.

When asked how bad things would have to get before this happened, he replied: "We are seeing more people in hospital, we are seeing more people in critical care. It's manageable at the moment, and all our efforts are designed to keep it at that manageable end.

"If we were to see a new variant of the disease, if we were to see the vaccine protection waning more quickly than the experts tell us to expect, of course the position could be worse. And then we would have to think about other things that we may have to do."

On a lighter note, Mr Drakeford - who turned 67 on 19 September - revealed he spent his birthday at a children's play area in Penarth with his toddler grandson, where they had an "absolutely wonderful" time.

You can catch up with Monday's Sharp End here.