Councillor speaks out against bullying after receiving death threat

A Meath councillor has told of receiving personal death threats in an effort to encourage more people to speak out against bullying.

Independent councillor Joe Bonner says he has gone to the gardaí about the latest sinister threat in which he was told he was “dead”.

In a separate incident in recent months, he claims a rat was left at the door of his home with its throat cut.

The councillor also received a phone call one Christmas Eve which urged him to take his life.

Mr Bonner has revealed details of the threats in a bid to highlight the fact that “bullying occurs in all walks of life. If I continued to keep quiet about these incidents, I’d be letting these bullies get away with intimidation.”

The latest incident, which he says he reported to the gardaí, occurred in recent months one early afternoon when he was threatened on the public road close to his home.

“I was driving my car when another car, travelling at speed, pulled over in front of me, blocking my path,” he said. “The driver got out leaving his door open and I could see others in the car.

“He was cool and collected and as he slowly pushed aside his clothing, his right hand went to pull something from the small of his back. He then slowly extended his arm in a manner like he was pointing a gun and said: ‘You’re dead. I’m having you sorted.’ I couldn’t say what, if anything, he pulled out from his back.

“Becoming very agitated, he then ordered me to get out of the car and began roaring and swearing at me. He then returned something to the small of his back and took a phone from his pocket.

“Moving to the front of my car he took photographs of my number plate and then proceeded to take photos of my face. He said to me, ‘smile now Joe’ when taking the picture.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t rattle me. My family were worried sick. My friends and colleagues are horrified and shocked to learn that this had happened.”

Mr Bonner, who was first elected to Meath County Council in 2004, feared such “serious threats” could have severe consequences.

“We shouldn’t have to live in a world where ‘neart is ceart’ or might is right,” he said.

“During my time in Meath County Council, it has always been my position that I have to inform the people. I do that by holding public information meetings, getting people around the table discussing the issues agreeing and deciding a way forward.”

The incident, he says, occurred ahead of a planned public meeting on local issues including road safety, planning and flooding.


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