Man arrested following arson attack on car of Sinn Féin TD

Martin Kenny and his family were inside their Leitrim home when attack took place

A photograph taken by Martin Kenny of his car burnt out at his home in Aughavas, Co Leitrim. Supplied by Brian Farrell

A photograph taken by Martin Kenny of his car burnt out at his home in Aughavas, Co Leitrim. Supplied by Brian Farrell

 

Gardaí investigating an arson attack on the car of Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny last week have arrested a man.

Mr Kenny and his family were inside their Co Leitrim home in the early hours of last Monday when the fire was noticed at about 2.30am. Nobody was injured and the house was undamaged.

Mr Kenny has supported a proposal to accommodate asylum seekers in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, where a local community group has mounted an around-the-clock silent protest in opposition to the plan.

Detectives are understood to be keeping an open mind as to a motive for the attack, but a garda source has acknowledged Mr Kenny’s support for the centre and a subsequent death threat “form a definite line of inquiry”.

In a statement on Monday, a spokesman for the force said detectives had arrested a man in his mid-40s in connection with the incident.

“Gardaí in Leitrim investigating an incident of criminal damage by fire which occurred in the Aughavas area of Co Leitrim at approximately 2.30am on October 28th have today arrested a male (mid 40s),” he said.

“He is currently being detained at Thurles Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.”

Politicians in all parties sharply condemned the attack in the days that followed, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar describing it as “an attack on democracy in itself”.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said in a statement: “I am appalled by the attack on Deputy Kenny’s vehicle last night. In a democracy we deliberate and debate – there is no place for violence.

“An attack on an elected member is an attack on all of society. It is an attack on democracy. I am asking anyone with information to please contact the gardaí.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described it as a “sinister and shocking arson attack”, while Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said it appeared to have been a deliberate and targeted attack on Mr Kenny.