Oireachtas ushers guard Enda Kenny as he leaves Leinster House to travel to Áras an Úachtaráin on the day of his appointment as Taoiseach. (Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland)
THE USHERS working as security guards in Leinster House have been given classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to defend themselves – and politicians – from aggressive members of the public.
TheJournal.ie can reveal that 19 of the Oireachtas’s ushers were sent on a self-defence course last year which included training in the Brazilian martial art.
The Houses of the Oireachtas paid €2,160 for the training for the 19 staff.
An Oireachtas spokeswoman said the training was “designed for staff who may come in contact with aggression/confrontation from members of the public during the course of their work.”
The training followed an incident in 2011 where a visitor to Leinster House made it to the staircase at the entrance to the Dáil chamber before being intercepted by the ushers on duty.
Ushers are also sometimes assigned to duty at the public entrance to the Oireachtas complex on Kildare Street in Dublin, where it is possible that more aggressive members of the public could also cause a confrontation.
Documentation on the self-defence course produced by its provider outlines how students are taught ‘awareness and avoidance techniques’ as well as how to understand fear and adrenaline, and ‘control of personal space’.
They are also trained in ‘Gracie Jiu Jitsu self defence and escape techniques against the most common attacks’.
The courses are aimed at teaching “self defence techniques for the most common attacks encountered on the street, with emphasis on awareness techniques and strategies to avoid a violent confrontation”.
Records obtained by this website show that the Oireachtas spent €59,184.40 on uniforms for ushers of various grades in 2009 and 2010. The ushers’ uniforms are black with gold trim and include embroidered harps on the lapels.