Most TDs receive death threats, RTÉ survey shows

Anne Rabbitte and her family moved out of their Galway home for several weeks

Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte said she never expected her children would be exposed to threats.

Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte said she never expected her children would be exposed to threats.

 

More than half of TDs who repsonded to an RTÉ survey on threats received by members of the Dáil have said their lives have been threatened.

Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City Maurice Quinlivan told the Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show that the issue is not being taken seriously.

“It has become almost routine”.

Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte told of two incidents in which she received telephone threats, one at 3am. She had answered the call because her son was away that night.

“The caller said ‘you need to back off the lines (during beef protests). We know where you are’. It shattered me for a few weeks. I couldn’t believe how upset I was and how taken aback. I felt exposed for my family. I didn’t expect my children to be exposed.”

Ms Rabbitte and her family moved out of their home for a few weeks.

Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin TD said the threats are frightening. “Dangerous, abusive language has seeped into political life.”

The survey, to which 54 per cent of sitting TDs responded, found that 69 per cent had received a threat of physical violence while 52 per cent who replied said they had received a death threat.

The total percentage of TDs who said they had received some kind of a threat (of physical violence or on their life) is 72 per cent. Of the respondents 37 per cent said a family member had received threatening or abusive messages. Of the 54 per cent of sitting TDs who responded to the survey 71 per cent were male, 29 per cent female.

Several female TDs said they had been threatened with rape.

“Every incident needs to be reported,” Me Martin said.

Mr Quinlivan said two of the threats against him were investigated by gardaí, but the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed with one case while there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution in the other case.

Social media is to blame for “emboldening” people who hide behind fake accounts, said Mr Quinlivan. He added that he does not allow staff members work in his constituency office on their own after one member of staff was threatened that she would be burned in the office.