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Reports urge cooperation to improve politicians’ safety

Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has warned of a “palpable sense of menace” among a small cohort of society.

She made the comments at the launch of two reports on the safety of politicians.

Ms O’Sullivan chaired a cross-party taskforce examining “safe participation in political life”.

It was commissioned by the Oireachtas last summer due to growing concern over the safety of public representatives.

Among the recommendations of the taskforce is increased cooperation between the Oireachtas and gardaí to improve security arrangements for TDs and senators.

Election candidates should have the option not to publish their home address

It also recommends an opt-in social media monitoring service for TDs and senators and a review of the security allowance available to members, which facilitates the purchase of equipment such as alarms and CCTV.

The taskforce heard from a range of stakeholders, however Ms O’Sullivan was critical of the social media site X, for not making itself available.

Separately, a study which examined abuse encountered by TDs and senators found that 94% of respondents experienced some form of threat, harassment, abuse or violence during the course of their work.

The study also found that 72% of political staff had a similar experience.

Just 28% of the 220 TDs and senators took part in the survey and of the 580 political staff, 35% took part.

The research was commissioned by the Oireachtas and conducted by University College Dublin. It was published in conjunction with the task force recommendations.

As the launch of the reports got under way, Seanad Cathaoirleach Jerry Buttimer informed attendees of the shooting of the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Mr Buttimer described the attack as a “worrying, dangerous development in the political world within Europe”, adding that it “highlights the significance of this report”.

Minister of State for European Affairs Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, a member of the task force, described the shooting of Mr Fico as a “massive thing to happen in any political system”.

“It is a huge thing to happen in Europe and it is an extraordinary reflection of what we’re speaking about at the very moment of the launch [of this report].”

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