Kenny says sending of anti-Semitic material to Shatter a ‘new low’

Army bomb disposal squad called to Minister’s house deal with suspect package

Members of the Garda outside the home of Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter in Dublin, after Army bomb experts were called to deal with an anti-semitic hoax chemical threat. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Members of the Garda outside the home of Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter in Dublin, after Army bomb experts were called to deal with an anti-semitic hoax chemical threat. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 15:49

A suspect package containing a white substance and anti-Semitic material was sent to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the post, the Dáil has heard.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil today the Department of Justice had received similar material.

He said while the substance, later proved to be harmless when analysed, the incident was a “new low”.

Earlier the Army’s bomb disposal squad was called to the home of Mr Shatter after a suspect package arrived at the south Dublin property this morning.

Gardai and the military bomb disposal experts, which also deal with chemical threats, attended the scene at Ballinteer, which was closed off in a full scale security alert this morning.

After arriving on the scene at 9.50am the Army’s personnel carried out an examination and quickly declared the incident a hoax.

The security alert was lifted and the area fully reopened.

Details of the incident are still emerging but it appears when Mr Shatter opened an envelope that arrived at his home he found powder inside and raised the alarm.

A Garda investigation has begun in an effort to establish the origins of the letter.

While some ministers for justice have had a static Garda post assigned to their homes in the past, the arrangements currently in place for Mr Shatter take the form of increased patrolling around the property rather than a permanent presence.

It was that heightened patrolling that led to the immediate arrest of a burglar who gained access to Mr Shatter’s home in March 2012.

The man was subsequently convicted and jailed.

The scaling down of security around Cabinet members was introduced in recent years as the Government came under pressure to decrease what were seen as unnecessary ministerial perks at a time of austerity and Garda cut backs.

The practice of assigning permanent Garda drivers to minister’s was also discontinued, though armed detectives still travel at times with some senior politicians including Mr Shatter and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.