Taoiseach wants review of TD security after killing of British MP

Micheál Martin said: "There were times in my political life when people would have encircled me and would have roared and screamed at me."
Taoiseach wants review of TD security after killing of British MP

After the recent killing of Tory MP David Amess, Micheál Martin said it is through the garda intelligence network that ultimate protection can be given to politicians. File photo: PA

The Taoiseach says security for TDs should be reviewed in light of the killing of British MP David Amess.

Speaking in Brussels, one day after protestors gathered outside Tánaiste Leo Varadkar's home, Micheál Martin said intimidation of public representatives is unacceptable, adding that he has been accosted in the street and people have turned up at his family home in Cork.

"I think we do need to review it, in terms of what security is required," he said. "I think intelligence is the key ingredient.

"No one wants an obtrusive or over-the-top security presence around politicians.

"It's part of our ecosystem of politics to have clinics, to have that interaction with people on the ground, which is a very positive feature of Irish politics and we have to protect that."

He said it is through the garda intelligence network that ultimate protection can be given to politicians. "I think it's through the intelligence network of An Garda Siochána is the ultimate protection that we can give to politicians, to spot things before they become challenging and difficult.

"I think we need to be careful.

"The online sort of hate messaging, and groups are forming who create bile around politicians and target politicians and I think that's not acceptable either.

"On the physical security side, we have to keep an eye on it."

The Taoiseach noted the Irish Examiner  story which revealed female politicians have been targeted in their homes and said it is a "challenge" to deal with.

"I don't think, for example, people should turn up to someone's home. We've all experienced that and over many protests," he said.

"I've never made a big deal about it but they've been different protests, that haven't been violent, I've been around for a long, long time in different ministries.

"One tries to deal with it. We need to protect that ingredient in Irish politics, that connection between people.

"I think some extreme political groups want to disrupt that connection. That's part of the agenda."

He said he always makes a point of walking the streets.

"There were times in my political life when people would have encircled me and would have roared and screamed at me and phones up to your face and all the rest of it.

"I will keep going. I think it's absolutely essential that we don't lose the ground, and don't lose the street as elected representatives.

"I'm a passionate believer in parliamentary democracy and I think people want to disrupt that. There's an agenda there sometimes to disrupt that, a sort of practice to almost denormalize conventional politicians, and to turn people against them, and that itself then can generate a more violent sort of interaction with politicians which has to be condemned."

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