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Taoiseach calls for garda review of security for Irish politicians after David Amess killing

Micheál Martin said he has been “roared and screamed at” while walking down the street.

Micheál Martin speaking today in Brussels.
Micheál Martin speaking today in Brussels.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said there should be a garda review of the security for Irish politicians following the fatal stabbing of UK MP David Amess. 

Speaking today in Brussels, Martin said he has been “roared and screamed at” while walking down the street but that he is keen to protect the connection between the public and politicians. 

“We depend in Ireland, well not depend, but it’s part of our ecosystem in politics to have clinics to have that interaction with people on the ground, which is a very positive feature of Irish politics and we have to protect that,” he said. 

But I think it’s through the intelligence network and the intelligence capacity of An Garda Síochána and others, it’s the ultimate protection that we can give to politicians to spot things before they become challenging and difficult. 

Amess, a Conservative MP for Southend West, was fatally stabbed last Friday during constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

An Taoiseach said today that “no one wants obtrusive or an over the top security presence around politicians” but that a review was needed. 

“I think we do need to review it, in terms of what security is required. What I mean by that is people keeping a very sharp eye and gardaí are well placed to do that and have an idea of what’s happening in different extreme groups and people who are harassing,” he said. 

There are difficulties I think, the online sort of hate messaging. Groups are forming who create bile around politicians and target politicians and target others as well and I think that’s not acceptable either. I think the physical security we have to keep an eye on it. 

In recent weeks there have been a number of protests at the home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and calls for greater enforcement of legislation to prevent intimidatory protests

Varadkar has said he does not wish to give oxygen to such protests by discussing them and Martin said today that his home has also previously been the site of demonstrations. 

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“I don’t think, for example, people should come up to someone’s home, we’ve all experienced it, I’ve never made a big deal about it but there have been protests, they haven’t been violent or anything like that but there have been protests at one’s home, that’s been around for a long, long time in different ministries and so on,” he said. 

I always make a point of walking my street, there were times in my political life when people who would have encircled me and would have roared and screamed at me, shouted and held phones up to your face and all the rest of it. I would keep going because I think it’s absolutely essential that we don’t lose the ground and don’t lose the streets. As elected representatives I’m a passionate believer in parliamentary democracy. 

He added: “We need to protect the ingredient in Irish politics, that connection between people and sometimes I think some extreme political groups want to disrupt that connection but that’s part of the agenda.”

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Rónán Duffy

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