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Streets blocked with barriers on Kildare Street creating a security zone around Leinster House. Sam Boal
Preventing abuse

Tailored security and social media monitoring service recommended for politicians in new report

The Taskforce on safe participation in political life was set up last year in response to the widespread abuse of politicians.

TAILORED SECURITY, SOCIAL media monitoring and a psychological support service for local representatives are among a raft of draft recommendations made to support politicians in an unpublished report by former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. 

O’Sullivan chairs the Taskforce on safe participation in political life which was set up last year to examine and make proposals on how to safeguard public participation in politics. 

The aim of the group is to discuss the significant level of abuse, including online abuse, and harassment experienced by those who participate in political life, particularly how this abuse disproportionately impacts women. 

It is understood by The Journal that a draft report from the taskforce, which includes TDs, senators and councillors, contains significant recommendations on how to prevent and tackle abuse of politicians. 

Among the recommendations is for the gardaí to provide tailored security advice to elected representatives and that the gardaí work with the Houses of the Oireachtas to strengthen arrangements to exchange information and agree security measures. 

It is also understood that one of the recommendations is for the Houses of the Oireachtas to establish an opt-in social media monitoring service for TDs and Senators. 

This service would monitor and report harmful/illegal content directly to social media platforms and to An Garda Síochána.

Social media companies are also mentioned among the recommendations and for them to take proactive measures to address abuse against those in political life by dedicating adequate resources to moderate harmful content. 

Political parties 

It is understood that the recommendations include that political parties put in place measures to support women and minority members and candidates – noting the particular challenges these groups may encounter in political life.

Complaints processes and trained points of contact within political parties are also recommended for party members who experience abuse to turn to. 

More broadly the recommendations are understood to include that political parties have systems in place to collect data on incidences of abuse and to monitor the impact and prevalence of abuse. 

Meanwhile, it’s also recommended that election candidates be equipped with campaign training that incorporates measures to protect them against abuse. 

It is understood the draft report also supports recent calls for election candidates to no longer have to publish their home addresses. 

On the psychological support for local representatives, it is understood that the draft recommendations say this should be similar to the service provided through the Houses of the Oireachtas Workplace Support Programme.

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