Death threat to TD who compared protesters to Isis

Gardaí are investigating a death threat phoned into the office of a Government TD after he compared water-charge protestors to Islamist militants.

Tipperary North Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan told the Irish Examiner his parliamentary secretary received the call at approximately 4pm. He said the female caller gave the woman a litany of abuse and said: “Tell that fat fucker he is dead and you are dead too.”

Mr Coonan said the call “does not bother him” and his only concern is for his colleague, who, he said, was doing an excellent job servng the community and “would not offend anyone”.

Earlier in the Dáil, Mr Coonan had said Ireland faces a potential “Isis situation” if water protests are allowed to escalate.

Mr Coonan said people had been “horrified” by scenes in Dublin at the weekend, when Tánaiste Joan Burton was struck by a water balloon and trapped in her car by protesters for more than two hours.

“This must be nipped in the bud and the people have given us a signal to do so,” said Mr Coonan. “If not, potentially we face a situation similar to that in the Middle East with Isis. If they are allowed to do as they wish, God help this country.”

Isis, otherwise known as Islamic State, controls parts of war-torn Syria and Iraq, and has become notorious for its beheadings of captives, mass rape, and crucifixion.

Mr Coonan’s comparison drew responses ranging from outrage to ridicule from opposition deputies.

Mr Coonan also stated that protesters in Dublin “act like parasites and live off country people”.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy asked whether the Government had listened to the public, as the Taoiseach had claimed.

The Dublin TD said that if the Government had really listened it would have got rid of the Economic Management Committee of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and the two economic ministers, which Mr Murphy said had “refused to listen” for more than eight months.

In a lighter moment, Fianna Fáil’s Brian Cowen quipped that Labour had taken ownership of Irish Water, which he branded “Fine Gael’s love child”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton replied that if it was Fine Gael’s love child, Fianna Fáil “had a hand in the conception”, as it originally agreed to water-charging with the troika.

The exchanges came as penalties for the non-payment of water charges were thrown into confusion, with Mr Kelly saying he did not want to see anyone going to jail for arrears.

As many opposition TDs continued to call for a mass-boycott of the charging regime, Mr Kelly moved to ease up on the threats issued to non-payers by his predecessor, Phil Hogan.

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