A Fine Gael councillor has spoken out about the death threats she received after criticising the social housing system in her home county.
Laois Cllr Aisling Moran received the threats after telling a council meeting that the system was being abused by “people who have never worked a day in their life,” while others who are just scraping by get nothing.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, she said she has received hundreds of emails, calls and text messages in the weeks since.
She said the vast majority were supportive, but there were a number of threats – including one from a man who wished her a ‘slow and painful death’.
“95% of the messages were very positive,” she said. “95% of them were people saying thank you for standing up for us; it’s great to see someone who is not afraid to say the truth.
“But then I got some really nasty comments and a couple of threats.
“Then there were people who rang me who I spoke to and they started off by shouting and roaring and then, after I spoke to them and explained the situation, they calmed down and some actually even agreed with me.”
The threats came after a council meeting in which Cllr Moran said it was "scandalous" that a local father facing homelessness with his family was told he would need to earn less to get a council house.
She told Pat what happened next.
“I said that there are genuine people - and there are a lot of genuine people - that need all the help they can get,” she said.
“But some council houses are being held up by an awful lot of people who have never worked a day in their life. Their parents have never worked a day in their life and their children will never work a day in their life.
“Now I shouldn’t have said that, but it was kind of in the heat of the moment.”
Cllr Moran said she “completely” stands by the comments – but said: “But I didn’t mean to offend anybody”.
“I’m not talking about people with disabilities,” she said. “I’m not talking about couples, where one person decides to work and one stays at home to save on childcare; I’m not talking about retired people or people who can’t go to work.
“I am talking about able-bodied people who are well able to work but choose the dole as a career option.”
At the council meeting, she was asked to withdraw her comments several times but refused.
She told Pat that the threshold for a couple to access social housing in Laois is not €42,000.
“If you are a couple with three children you have to be earning under that,” she said.
“With the cost of living today, you need to be earning more than that to live and yet you have to be under that to be entitled to housing.
“So, if you’re on €43,000 or €42,500 you’re not entitled to any help at all.
“You can’t get a mortgage from the bank and you can’t afford rent. Like, in Laois and Offaly alone, we have 39,000 people aged between 18 and 35 that are living at home with their parents because they can’t afford to rent or to buy.”
Cllr Moran said her wife and children were very nervous after the threats came in.
“There are an awful lot of female politicians that feel threatened,” she said. “They are good politicians. People who genuinely, actually care.
She said it is not the first time she has been abused.
“People target you personally and not about what you do, you know? That’s wrong,” she said.
She said she aims to stay in politics despite the abuse.
“I love it,” she said. “I love helping people; I love being able to solve a problem.
“I would like to stay in politics but it is very nerve wracking on your family and I think family should be kept out of these sorts of things.”