Minister for Justice ‘appalled’ by alleged arson attack on TD’s car

Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny supports plan to house asylum seekers in Ballinamore

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny and his family were inside their Co Leitrim home on Monday when the burning car was noticed.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny and his family were inside their Co Leitrim home on Monday when the burning car was noticed.

 

Gardaí are investigating the cause of a fire which destroyed a car outside the house of a TD who recently received a death threat.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny and his family were inside their Co Leitrim home early on Monday when the fire was noticed.

Nobody was injured. It is understood the vehicle destroyed by fire was parked in the driveway and that the house was not damaged.

Carrick on Shannon -based Garda Supt Kevin English who is leading the investigation confirmed they were investigating the cause of the fire.

He said the scene had been preserved and Garda technical experts were carrying out tests.

Supt English said he could not speculate on the cause of the fire at this stage until further examinations are carried out but it is understood one line of inquiry is the car was set on fire deliberately.

Gardaí were alerted to the fire at around 2.30am.

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

Last week Deputy Kenny, who has criticised “fearing mongering” and the whipping-up of hysteria in the debate about immigration, said he had received a death threat and a number of vile messages.

Commenting on the death threat he said: “I expect someone who is going to do something does not text you first to tell you they are going to do it so I am not taking it too seriously.”

Deputy Kenny could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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.”

Condemn

The attack has been condemned “in the strongest possible terms” by those protesting against plans to accommodate 130 asylum seekers in the town.

In a statement the Ballinamore Community Group said “we condemn in the strongest possible terms the news this morning of criminal acts being perpetrated against Martin Kenny TD and his property”.

Spokesman Gordon Hughes who described the incident as “shocking” said the demonstration had been conducted in a peaceful and respectful manner “and it is our firm commitment that it will continue in the same way”.

He added: “Any other elements are not indicative of the community of Ballinamore”.

Those protesting against accommodating asylum seekers in Ballinamore have argued that 130 asylum seekers is too many in a town with a population of 900 but have said they would accept a “proportional” amount.

Minister for Integration David Stanton met local elected representatives and a delegation from Ballinamore Community Group last week to hear local concerns about the proposal.

After the meeting members of the community group said Mr Santon had agreed to pause the plan but this has not been confirmed by the Minister.

The Cathaoirleach of Leitrim county council Enda McGloin said if Mr Kenny’s car was deliberately set on fire outside his home this was “an attack on democracy and on free speech”.

‘Shocked and sickened’

Councillor Enda McGloin said he was “shocked and sickened” to hear of the incident.

The Fine Gael councillor appealed to anyone with information to go to the gardaí.

He said if it was an arson attack it was “affront to civilized behaviour”. Mr McGloin who is a councillor for the Ballinamore area said Deputy Kenny had a view which might not be popular with a lot of people in Ballinamore but his views were “fair and sincerely held”.

Gardaí in Mohill, are investigating the incident and are appealing for anyone who may have been in the area between 12 midnight and 3am this morning, and who saw anything suspicious or to anyone with information or who witnessed this incident to contact the Gardaí at Mohill on 071-9631002,the Garda Confidential Line 1 800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

They are particularly interested in any motorist who may have dash cam footage.