TDs advised by gardaí to wear ‘comfortable shoes’ so they can ‘move quickly’ if threatened

A crime-prevention information sheet was circulated to TDs on Monday evening by the clerk of the Dáil

TDs have been advised by gardaí to be “street wise” to ensure their personal safety, including wearing “comfortable shoes” so that they can “move quickly” if they need to.

A crime-prevention information sheet was circulated to TDs on Monday evening by the clerk of the Dáil which includes advice to avoid holding constituency clinics in buildings that are otherwise empty.

The advice was issued last year but was circulated again on Monday after bags of manure were thrown at Minister of State Anne Rabbitte and Fine Gael TD Ciarán Cannon at a public meeting in Co Galway last week.

Ms Rabbitte and Mr Cannon, both TDs for Galway East, were attending a local community meeting to discuss the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for an industrial biogas facility at the edge of Gort town when the incident occurred.


The advice suggests that planned visits to the homes of constituents could instead take place in public places. It says where a home visit is taking place, TDs are advised to tell a “responsible person” where they are going and what time they are expected back.

“Carry out a mini risk assessment on the property before approaching,” the advice says.

“After knocking at the door, stand back and to the side. When the resident answers the door, before going straight in, engage them in a doorstep conversation.

“Use your sense: smell, sight, hearing, gut-feel – and if anything feels ‘off’ make an excuse for not going in.”

The advice also says to “avoid meeting in the kitchen” as it provides “many possibilities when it comes to dangerous weapons that are best avoided”.

TDs are also asked to consider having a personal alarm, and to check the batteries before leaving, as well as “wear comfortable shoes that you can move quickly in, if you need to”.

“Fill up with fuel during daylight hours,” the advice adds. “Regularly check your tyres, including the spare.”

The circular also says TDs should check their route and avoid areas that they feel uncomfortable driving through alone and to lock doors when driving around towns and in remote areas.

Gardaí said “thankfully” there had been “very few major incidents” involving violence towards local or national politicians, “although when attacks do take place they are widely publicised”.

“This could lend itself to making some elected officials feel that they are more exposed to attacks because of the decisions they are involved in making,” it says.

“Many elected officials will have experienced unpleasant or challenging interactions with a member of the public, and verbal or written abuse is often accepted as being part and parcel of the role.”

The circular says while most aggression experienced will be at the low end of the spectrum of unacceptable behaviour, “severe abuse could be considered an offence under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997″.

The clerk of the Dáil said the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission had sought the sanction of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for the introduction of a scheme to enable it to make a financial contribution towards the cost of security measures implemented by members on the advice of An Garda Síochána.

“We are continuing to pursue this matter with the department and when a response is received we will be in contact again,” the clerk said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times