New security allowance scheme for politicians not taken up despite growing safety concerns

TDs and Senators told of how €5,000 scheme works in May but no claims were made by mid-August, Oireachtas confirms

No TDs or Senators claimed a new allowance of up to €5,000 to improve security at their homes or offices during the first three months of the scheme’s operation.

There have been growing fears for the safety of politicians amid threats made to individual representatives and incidents and protests that have occurred at some TDs’ homes and at constituency clinics in recent years.

Protests outside Leinster House – which included a mock gallows and saw some politicians require Garda assistance to enter the complex – brought the issue back on the agenda upon the return of the Dáil last month.

The new security requirements allowance (SRA) for Oireachtas members was approved by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe at the end of April.


However, no politicians availed of it in the following three months and into the start of August.

The Houses of the Oireachtas did not confirm over the weekend if any SRA claims have been made since, nor did it offer a view on why there were no claims during that period.

Records released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show that Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl wrote to Oireachtas members in May detailing how the new security scheme had been implemented “following a significant number of security and safety incidents involving Members and their staff”.

He outlined how the SRA allows a once-off financial contribution of up to €5,000, or half of security costs incurred by the politician, whichever is the lesser.

The allowance can be spent on approved personal safety measures for a politicians’ staff, office or home.

“The personal safety measures must be those recommended in a report by An Garda Síochána following a security review by your local crime prevention officer of the premises concerned,” he added.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the Oireachtas “one-stop shop” (OSS) would be preparing seminars and information and would be handling queries on the allowance, including offering advice in cases where personal safety measures had already been installed or costs incurred.

The OSS sent around a frequently asked questions document on May 18th.

It outlines how the “first essential step” in a claim is to have a security review conducted by a close protection officer (CPO).

It adds that the CPO “may recommend intruder alarms, fixed panic buttons such as in your constituency offices, CCTV, a GPS-tracked panic button app, or a GPRS/GSM-based mobile personal attack handset” as well as other possible solutions.

Raising wall heights or security light installation may also be recommended.

Work to install security equipment must be undertaken by an installer registered with the Private Security Authority (PSA).

Under the scheme the politician pays for any works and equipment needed before submitting a claim form accompanied by invoices to the OSS which will then check them and process reimbursement payments.

The Irish Times FOI request sought details of any claims under the SRA scheme between May 1st and August 11th.

An Oireachtas response said: “As no claims for the security requirements allowance have been made, and no payments have issued, there are no records to release.”


Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times