independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Political motive is behind fire attack on office, says TD

Paul Kehoe TD and Fine Gael county councillor Larry O'Brien at Mr Kehoe's office in New Ross, Co Wexford which was broken into

THE Fine Gael chief whip whose constituency offices were attacked on Friday said he and his family have been intimidated and threatened since the Government introduced the household charge two years ago.

As two men arrested in connection with the arson attack were released without charge yesterday, Wexford TD Paul Kehoe said he "could not help but suspect" a political motive behind the attack.

"I have been getting threats through Facebook and phone calls and text messages," he said. "I have been receiving [threats] ever since the property tax, and since the household charge was introduced in 2011." Gardai are investigating separate attacks on the Fine Gael TD and his close constituency colleague, Martin Lawlor, a solicitor in New Ross.

Mr Kehoe said: "I got a call early [on Friday] morning that someone broke into the back office. They emptied out all of the newspapers and boxes and files, put them into the middle of the floor and set them alight."

As the fire was in a back office, it wasn't immediately visible but the caretaker was eventually alerted by a fire alarm.

Mr Kehoe said that the fire could have spread to three stories of apartments above but for the mass concrete between the offices and the apartments.

Martin Lawlor, Mr Kehoe's former director of elections and long-time Fine Gael activist, also appeared to have been targeted. Offices used by Mr Lawlor were also attacked on the same night.

According to Mr Kehoe, the intruder burst through a side door with a wheelie bin. The bin was set alight and pushed into the boiler house, damaging the oil burner. A car parked outside, near Mr Lawlor's offices, was also set alight.

Mr Kehoe was sceptical that the two attacks on a Fine Gael TD and a well-known Fine Gael activist were unconnected.

"I hope that it is not the targeting of me and Michael Lawlor because of our political allegiances," he said.

He said that he did not know the two who were arrested for the attacks. He said he hoped the garda would fully investigate the attacks and added he would fully cooperate with their inquiries.

Irish Independent

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