Minister McEntee announces security and protection review for Oireachtas members and staff working on Oireachtas campus
The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has asked the Garda Commissioner to undertake out a new security and protection review of TDs, senators, their staff and people working on the Oireachtas campus.
The chairs of the respective parliamentary parties and parliamentary groupings in the Oireachtas, and representatives of the staff and media working in Leinster House, will be asked to contribute to the review and will be met with as part of this process.
This will allow those working in the Oireachtas give their views on general security and protection, including as they work in their constituencies, as well as on the security approach to parliamentary set days such as Budget Day and the first sitting of Dáil terms.
The review will be concluded by the end of October and provided to the Minister for Justice.
Minister McEntee has also asked her officials to examine whether existing legislation is sufficient to deal with intimidation centred on our democratic institutions, and is also consulting with the Attorney General on this.
The Commissioner’s review will also feed into other work being carried out under the auspices of the Oireachtas and elsewhere, such as:
- The Task Force on Safe Participation in Political Life
- A review of security announced this week by the Ceann Comhairle
- The potential impact of the new security allowance for members of the Oireachtas, which was introduced earlier this year
An Garda Síochána constantly monitors the security of elected representatives.
A recent assessment of security for office holders has led to increased protection over recent years and each Garda Division has a Crime Prevention Officer who is qualified and tasked to liaise with and provide advice to elected representatives.
Minister McEntee said justifiable concerns have arisen in light of the recent incidents and protests.
Minister McEntee said:
“It is clear that, over recent years, there has been a significant increase in the level of abuse, on- and off-line, targeted at politicians, their staff and those working in our democratic institutions.
“There has been a noticeable deterioration in the tone and content of some, increasingly personalised, commentary on political and public affairs, particularly on social media.
“We saw this aggression and coarseness evident in the disturbing scenes outside Leinster House this week. I am determined to take all steps to ensure this does not develop further.
“We must also ensure that the small minority who wish to attack democracy do not deter people from participating in politics and engaging in public life. Political engagement, vigorous debate are vital to public life and our thriving democracy.
“Ireland is not immune from the coarsening of debate and physical risks that we have seen elsewhere so we will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of all those who participate in public life.
“I have asked the Garda Commissioner to carry out a review of security and protection of TDs, senators, their staff and people working on the Oireachtas campus, and I expect to receive a final report by the end of October.”