Taoiseach describes killing of David Amess as ‘attack on democracy’

TDs observe a minute’s silence in Dáil in tribute to murdered MP

A woman looks at the floral tributes left outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed on Friday Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A woman looks at the floral tributes left outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed on Friday Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

 

The Dáil observed a minute’s silence in memory of the murdered Conservative Party MP David Amess who was stabbed multiple times at a constituency clinic in Southend-on-Sea in Essex on Friday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin described his killing as “an attack on democracy”, adding out that “holding clinics is something that we as elected representatives do, as part of our public service to the communities we serve”.

Mr Martin said that “face-to-face interaction with constituents is what makes our job worthwhile and fruitful.

“It’s a crucial part of our democracy and we should do our utmost to protect, to continue it”.

He was struck he said, by how all members of Westminster spoke so highly and kindly about Mr Amess and had described him as “exceptionally decent, down to earth and hard working”.

He hoped his wife Julia and children, received some comfort from these kind comments “as they deal with their deep personal and very sad loss”.

Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly who called for the minute’s silence said he spent more than half of his life in the House of Commons “and the tributes from all sides within that House and outside it confirm how popular and well-respected he was. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his wife Julia, his son and his four daughters.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald offered her sincere sympathy and that of her party to his wife and family. She said theirs was a very traumatic and sudden loss and she hoped they got some comfort from the good wishes from right across the world.

She said being in public service is “all about people” and “being up close and sometimes very personal with people and so his loss sends a shock wave through not just the British system but internationally.”

Labour finance spokesman Ged Nash, said that “when I heard this last Friday, my immediate thought was it could have been any of us, at any time”.

“When Sir David was attacked last Friday,most of us were doing the very same thing,” in holding regular clinics.

The killing was a reminder of “the brutal murder of our UK Labour colleague Jo Cox, which was five short years ago,” he said.

“No public representative should ever have to die like this.” He added that the Dáil and Seanad have “a role in dialling down division, and that they needed to be “able to debate ferociously but disagree respectfully”.

Social Democrats joint leader Catherine Murphy said there has been a “coarsening of political discourse, which has made politics all the more toxic”. But she said there was no excuse for what happened to David Amess.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that in some countries, public representatives have to be flanked by heavy security all the time. “We never want to go down that road.”

He added that “ we want to preserve that relationship”.

Regional Independent TD Cathal Berry said he hoped that in time the Amess family would be able to “draw some semblance of comfort from the fact that he died with his boots on doing the job he loved”.

Rural Independent TD Michael McGrath said that in the past number of years there had been a “slippery slope” of anonymous abuse in online attacks. It was not right that people could say whatever they liked anonymously online about someone just because they were a politician.

Independent TD Marian Harkin said the Dáil stood in solidarity with his family

“to recognise and remember a man who they in their own words, describe as strong and courageous, a patriot and a man of peace”.