TDs and Senators given Garda briefing on their personal safety

Move follows killing of British MP David Amess and protests at politicians’ homes

It is understood that elected representatives have been given advice in relation to alarm systems and panic buttons. File photograph: Getty Images

It is understood that elected representatives have been given advice in relation to alarm systems and panic buttons. File photograph: Getty Images

 

TDs and Senators were on Monday given a Garda briefing on their personal safety, following the killing of British MP David Amess, as well as a wave of protests at the homes of Irish politicians.

A chief superintendent discussed issues pertaining to security for politicians at their homes, offices and in the Leinster House complex at a meeting of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

A spokesperson for the Garda Press Office said it was unable to comment on issues relating to such security matters. However, it is understood that elected representatives were given advice in relation to alarm systems and panic buttons.

This week the Seanad is expected to debate new measures to outlaw protests outside the homes of public representatives. This follows demonstrations at the homes of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, among other politicians.

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne is to introduce the Protection of Private Residences against Targeted Picketing Bill, which would result in fines of up to €5,000 and a 12-month jail sentence for repeat offences.

Emer Higgins, Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid-West, told RTÉ’s Drivetime that she is in favour of the proposed legislation.

“I believe a person’s home, regardless of what they do, should be off limits. Legitimate peaceful protests are an important part of democracy but in my view there is no legitimate reason to protest outside anyone’s home when you can do so at their workplace.

“The only reason to protest at someone’s home is to intimidate them. I think that is wrong and I think it will turn people off politics. Yes, politicians are of course public figures, but we do also have private lives. Some of us live alone and that [protest] I am sure it is particularly frightening particularly for young female politicians.”