Junior Minister 'trapped' by man in office for 40 minutes

Junior Minister 'trapped' by man in office for 40 minutes

Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte said she has "changed how she does business" after the frightening incident last month. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

A junior minister says that she will not now go to her constituency office alone after she was "trapped" by a man before Christmas.

Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte said she has "changed how she does business" after the frightening incident last month.

Ms Rabbitte said the incident occurred at her constituency office in Portumna just before Christmas. She said that after her regular Saturday clinic, a man stood in the narrow passage to her office and "put her through her paces" with his disagreement on vaccines and other government policies.

"When people come into the office, they'd come all the way in, but he was stood in such a way that I had no exit out. He knew I was uncomfortable and I suppose I was a bit agitated because I felt trapped. I kept saying 'I need to go' and that he could make an appointment, but there was no putting it off until the phone rang."

Ms Rabbitte said there is no doubt that she "was detained" for over 40 minutes. She said she was "uncomfortable" and felt she had "left herself exposed".

"I wasn't comfortable enough to continue the conversation. I felt there was no out and luckily the phone rang and that was my opportunity to end the conversation. But even that was on the condition that the conversation would be held another time," she told Drivetime on RTÉ radio.

Ms Rabbitte said that she would now not be going to her office alone and would only work on an appointment basis.

"I've changed how I do things. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and I reflected that I won’t be doing it like that again. I can’t be putting myself in those positions so I’ve just changed how I do business. Unfortunately, I won't be going to the office on my own again. And that's sad because I enjoyed that freedom."

Ms Rabbitte said she was "not whinging" but said it illustrated that some female politicians are forced to change their behaviour. She said another incident at her Athenry office had seen a man threaten to "blow up the office".

The incident comes as senior cabinet ministers are to be assigned a Garda driver over safety concerns.

A high-level security review, accepted by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee recommended that all 15 Cabinet ministers should receive around the clock protection from an armed garda.

Government sources have confirmed that all cabinet-level ministers will now be assigned an armed garda driver, confirming the Irish Examiner story in December flagging the move.

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