The Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil has invited all female TDs to a meeting next month to discuss the rising level of threats and abuse they receive, with a new cross-party taskforce set to follow.
The meeting has been organised by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and has been provisionally arranged for February 22nd. Senior members of the gardaí will be present, as will a psychologist who will be there to discuss the mentalities of the perpetrators of such abuse.
A source said that it is likely that a cross-party group will then be set up to formalise the proposals made during the meeting. Female politicians will be invited to give their experiences and outline their proposals to tackle the issue.
Following that, there is now a widespread expectation that an all-party group will be set up to submit formal proposals to Government on how to tackle abuse, and ensure women are not discouraged from entering politics.
The idea for a cross-party taskforce was first raised in the Dáil last week by Labour leader Ivana Bacik and was supported by Tánaiste Micheál Martin. The Women For Election group have also called for such a taskforce which would also examine how to address the growing level of harmful material online.
We will have the discussion and see what comes out of that. Because at the end of the day, those members know best themselves
The meeting and proposals for the new group come after five female politicians spoke to The Irish Times about the level of abuse and threats they are dealing with. The politicians spoke of finding bullet shells on their door, of receiving pornographic letters, death threats and of being either intimidated in their constituency office or being advised to stop holding clinics altogether.
“We will have the discussion and see what comes out of that. Because at the end of the day, those members know best themselves,” a source said.
Separately, politicians could receive up to €5,000 towards the cost of installing new security systems on foot of a fresh recommendation from the Houses of the Oireachtas.
A decision from the Department of Public Expenditure is imminent on the request which would see the Oireachtas make a contribution of between €3,000 and €5,000 on costs such as CCTV, extra alarms and other security measures.
The funding would only be allocated following a recommendation by An Garda Síochána, and it would be a contribution towards costs rather than a full payment.
The amount that the TD will get will depend on the outlay the member incurs. Those who install the CCTV or security measures would also have to be registered from a list of available providers.