Dáil visitor restrained from entering parliament chamber

USHERS were forced to restrain a member of the public visiting Leinster House yesterday after the man tried to force his way into the Dáil chambers.

Gardaí manning Leinster House were contacted after the visitor, who was signed in by Minister of State for Small Business John Perry, attempted to get past Dáil ushers and into where the Taoiseach was taking questions in the chambers.

Security has been heightened at Leinster House in recent days, as is tradition, in line with the announcement of the budget and ongoing protests outside the gates. A spokesman for the Oireachtas said: “The attempted breach of security was dealt with by staff which shows procedures work and he was referred to gardaí afterwards.”

The man, in his 60s, attempted to enter through a chamber door at the top of the main staircase at the rear of the chamber. An usher restrained the man in an armlock to stop the visitor interrupting proceedings during the morning. Leaders’ questions was on at the time and was being broadcast live on RTÉ television.

Leinster House Garda Superintendent Paul Conway described the incident as a “very minor thing altogether”.

The Houses of the Oireachtas though, said it was the only time a member of the public had tried to breach security and enter the Dáil chambers in recent times.

Gardaí held the man for a short period and he was escorted to the exit of Leinster House and let go.

It remains unclear why the man in question tried to enter the chambers, which is forbidden unless you are a member of the house or parliamentary staff.

However, one senior Leinster House security source who described him as “not well” and a bit “curious”.

Members of the public can only enter the grounds of Leinster House when signed in as visitors by Oireachtas members or officials.

Mr Perry’s spokeswoman last night confirmed that he had authorised the man to visit Leinster House and that he knew the man who was a constituent of his from the Sligo-North Leitrim constituency. The man had arranged to join a tour group of the houses. She added: “The minister commends the speedy response of the ushers and staff but the matter is now with gardaí.”

More in this section