In the wake of a gun threat being issued to the office of Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has spoken out about the issues that politicians are increasingly facing.
Describing the threat as “despicable”, Harris stated that online threats, as well as abuse against politicians, is beginning to occur on a regular basis.
“Online threats, abusive calls, gatherings outside homes, being followed on streets -all now happening regularly.”
“We must be united against this.”
Harris added that it isn’t a political party issue but that it’s about democratic values and safety.
Yesterday, the office of Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny was contacted by an individual who claimed that they were on their way to Leinster House with a firearm at approximately 11am.
Although no threats were made against a named TD, Gardaí will continue to investigate the incident.
Mr. Kenny was subject to death threats in the past after his car was burned in the early hours of the morning on the 28th of October 2019.
This is understood to only be a fraction of the threats and abuse that politicians are facing on a daily basis.
Recently, video footage was circulating on social media revealing Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe being confronted in Dublin by protesters.
Donohoe was subject to verbal abuse which included “mass genocide” as the group accused him of being part of a mass genocide plot. The video footage caused concerns in relation to the safety of Irish politicians.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly were subject to anti-vaccination protests that were staged outside their homes which was widely condemned by politicians across Ireland.
One member of the demonstration group, which has planned further protests outside the homes of Irish politicians, can be heard shouting homophobic insults at the Tánaiste in a video stream; “It’s Leo Varadkar’s house, the treasonous snake. I don’t think his girlfriend is going to be too happy, oh wait, he’s the girlfriend. Sorry, I don’t think his boyfriend is going to be too happy.”
Minister Harris responded to the protests and described the insults as “Sickening, repulsive, disgusting behaviour” while adding that it “has no place in a democracy”.
Responding to the recent violence and threats against politicians, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called for a security review for Irish politicians while speaking about his own personal experiences of being “roared and screamed at” while walking down the street.
He added that while although no one wants an over the top security presence around politicians, a Garda review in relation to their security was required.
However, the issue is not exclusive to Ireland which is particularly evident in relation to the fatal stabbing of Conservative MP David Amess who was attacked in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, UK on the 15th of October.
Following this brutal incident, which occurred five years after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, the Home Office launched a review into the safety of MPs.
While speaking in Brussels on Friday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke about the safety of Irish politicians, stating, “I think we do need to review it, in terms of what security is required. What I mean by that is people keeping a very sharp eye and gardaí are well placed to do that and have an idea of what’s happening in different extreme groups and people who are harassing,”.
IMAGE – Twitter/SimonHarrisTD