The rise in abuse and attacks on politicians reflects the “very bad direction” Irish society is headed in, according to Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny.
He was speaking after Gardaí warned politicians to take extra security precautions, including the use of personal alarms and varying their routines and the times they travel to work.
The politicians were also advised to lock their doors while driving, avoid empty carriages on public transport and to wear comfortable shoes so they can move quickly should an incident arise.
The advice was issued after bags of excrement were thrown at two TDs at a public meeting last week.
Across the water meanwhile, two British MPs, Jo Cox and David Amess, have been murdered in the past six years.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Sinn Féin justice spokesman Martin Kenny said the rise in abuse and attacks on politicians is “a reflection of our society as a whole and the very bad direction it is going down”.
Deputy Kenny has recently taken the decision to move house with his family after a range of incidents at his home in recent years.
In 2019, his car was burned in a suspected arson attack outside his home and back in September a car was driven through the gates of his property.
“We live in a society where, unfortunately, there is a tiny minority who are very angry and disturbed and can sometimes take things too far,” he said.
“Sometimes it may be when they have alcohol on board or whatever and they do things like that or sometimes there are people that have various issues and they can be extremely aggressive.
“We have seen that in our constituency offices, we have seen that in different places and sometimes indeed on the street.
“It is quite frightening and alarming for people in public life to be treated like that but I am conscious that bus drivers are being attacked in our cities, I am conscious that people in our emergency departments often have to deal with extremely aggressive people in those circumstances as well so it is not only people in political life that have to deal with this and have to cope this.
“A whole range of people in our society have to deal with this.”
Deputy Kenny noted that Irish politicians have traditionally been “very open” and easy for members of the public to approach.
He agreed that, if things continue as they are, those days could soon be over.
“There is this notion that it is almost a virtue to be angry and aggressive and to be really intense when you are dealing with a public representative,” he said. “To be shouting and roaring and going crazy.
“Sometimes when people are verbally like that, they are abusive in a verbal way but others will be physically abusive and will take it that step further at different times.
“I have had incidents here in our home that put us into a situation where we made a logical and practical decision to move house and that is what we have to do because of this type of behaviour.”
As part of the new security advice, the Oireachtas is seeking funding for a new scheme for politicians to increase their personal security.
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